There are lots of reason why you should be voting tomorrow. The economy, education, immigration, civil rights, marriage equality, unemployment, and if you’re in California you might be voting to legalize marijuana. Or not…
While I do consider all of those things a big part in why I’ll be casting my vote tomorrow, there is one reason that remains the foundation for my undying commitment to voting in each and every election that I’ve experienced since turning 18.
Each time I vote in any election whether it be a presidential, local, or midterm election (such as tomorrow’s), I consider it my way of commemorating the 19th amendment, the Woman Suffrage Movement Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women full voting rights in 1920. The women’s suffrage movement was one of the most dedicated and diligent suffrage movements in history. I’ve never taken for granted how much those women put themselves on the line to simply earn the right to vote.
I was raised in a politically minded household. My grandma was old school and as each one of the grandkids approached voting age she would always inquire as to the status of our voter registration, especially when I, being the oldest girl, neared my 18th birthday. She felt that though it was everyone’s duty to vote, it was especially important for women. The idea that women’s suffrage would be taken for granted by the simple act of not voting seemed absurd.
It still does.
So, of course, I registered when I was 17 and lucky for me the first big election after my 18th birthday was a presidential election. But as I stepped into my old junior high school gymnasium that crisp November morning to vote in my first election, I asked myself does my vote REALLY matter? Will my lowly little 18-year-old girl voice REALLY make a difference? As it turned out, it did.
The next day my choice for President won four more years in the White House. Also that next day my grandma sent me a newspaper article she’d clipped from the San Francisco chronicle, titled “Women Made the Difference.”
It stated that for the first time since women had won the right to vote they had elected the President of the United States. He did not win the male vote that year, he won the female vote. And since women had the majority of votes that year, it was women who decided the election.
My first election was also a pretty big first for the women’s suffrage movement as well. I’m always proud to have been a part of that moment and I still have that article in my hope chest today.
So don’t forget tomorrow to vote. And when you do, give thanks to the women who gave so much just so your voice could be heard.