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Votes for women

| Wednesday, August 19, 2020

I have a confession to make. I spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking about my favorite parts of the Constitution. It’s definitely my most patriotic tendency — and one that I use to distract myself from disillusionment at the current state of American politics. As a student journalist, I absolutely love my First-Amendment rights. But as a woman, I have to say my favorite amendment is the 19th, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this week.

On Aug. 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified by a 36th state. While women could already vote in a number of states and territories — beginning with Wyoming in 1869 — this date marks a significant change in federal law. Barring a person from voting based on gender was no longer permissible. There were, of course, a plethora of other ways voting rights were denied to American citizens, but the 19th Amendment was a start.

By no means did the 19th Amendment bring voting equality to all women. White women were undeniably favored. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 came decades later, though even this legislation didn’t make voting accessible to everyone. Barriers still exist today, with many of them disproportionately affecting minorities. By exercising your right — and privilege — to vote, you can help prevent this from being denied to others.

If you’re eligible to vote, do it. Request an absentee ballot — or vote by mail if that’s an option for you. These deadlines differ based on the state in which you’re registered, so it’s certainly worth thinking about now. If you’re close enough to your polling place — and feel comfortable going — wear a mask and participate in democracy.

If you’re not registered to vote, do something about it. Do it for the women and men who fought for the right to do so. Do it for those who have had the right taken away due to circumstances like felony convictions. Do it for your classmates and friends who are greatly affected by policies like DACA but are unable to vote in favor of keeping them in place.

Vote for change, if that’s what you want. Vote for sound economic policy during this turbulent time. Vote for women, as we’re running for office at increasingly high rates. 2020 would have been a particularly poetic year to finally break that glass ceiling, but there’s always hope for 2024. In the meantime, there are some great online resources to help you learn about the women currently running for other offices.

I won’t pretend to be impressed by either major party’s presidential candidate this year — especially when it comes to allegations of sexual harassment and assault — but their lack of likability doesn’t justify not voting. While it bothers me deeply that neither party could come up with a candidate who has a history of treating minorities and women with dignity, I’d like to think a day will come when that will no longer be the case.

Nov. 3 will bring more than just another president — or a second term for the current one. There are seats to be filled in the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as offices at the state level. These elections matter, too, and they won’t be ultimately decided by the Electoral College. Or, even worse, the Supreme Court. Some of the candidates for these offices are truly impressive. I have high hopes to see a new senator representing my home state soon, but that will only happen if we get out — or mail in — and vote.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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