- Elizabeth Murray
The Women's Vote
The 2020 election marks the centennial of women being able to participate in national elections. Women constitute more than half of the US population and are undoubtedly a huge voting block.
At first, the 19th amendment, which was ratified in 1920, didn’t bring much change to the electorate: only 36% of women voted compared to 68% of men. Women who did vote didn't dramatically change political landscape because they often voted along the lines of their husbands.
The tide began to turn in the 50’s and the 60’s as political involvement grew among Americans with the Civil Rights Movement and rise of identity politics. Since 1980, voter turnout overall has been higher among women than men.
Women aren’t a monolith, and you’ll hardly find two with the same political beliefs. Still, the female vote has proven to be able to change election outcomes. For instance, the female vote was influential in the 2017 Alabama Senate race, where Doug Jones beat judge Roy Moore who had been accused of sexually assaulting minors. Jones won by a little less than 20,000 votes and it's widely accepted that his victory was due in part to support from the black community, specifically black women.
The female vote is so powerful that if only men had voted in the 2012 and 1996 elections, Obama and Clinton would have lost, respectively. Still, only 26 senators and 127 U.S. representatives are women. According to a 2018 poll by the Pew Research Center, 57% of women believe that voters aren't ready to elect a woman to political office and see this as a major impediment.
There is a generational gap when it comes to voting among women as well. Only 35.3% of women between the ages of 18-24 voted in the 2018 midterm elections. In fact, a majority of women under the age of 34 in 2018 did not vote, compared to more than half voting in the over 35 demographic.
No matter one’s political views it's important for women to be involved in the electoral system. Regardless of our own views, we have all learned the importance of using our political voice in the 2020 election. So here’s to the centennial of the women’s vote and may we cherish and use the right we fought so hard for.