Sunday, August 26, 2007

Happy Women's Right To Vote Day

On this day in 1920, the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was finally ratified. It had been a long, bitter struggle, but it finally came. It was the first major step towards equality for women in this country. The struggle is far from over, especially in the economic arena, but that first step was very important.

Yesterday, in Sacramento, a rally was held to commemorate the event. From The Sacramento Bee:

Women from across the state gathered on the west steps of the Capitol on Saturday to hear politicians, activists and community leaders as part of the second annual California Women's Equality Day parade and rally. ...

The rally commemorated ratification in 1920 of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Supporters of all ages came out for the event, sponsored by the California Suffrage Parade Coalition. ...

Dan Collins of Sacramento sat in the hot sun with his three daughters. His wife was at work. "I came because I don't want them to take anything for granted, especially their rights," said Collins.

Many said it was particularly important to urge women to vote because of the upcoming presidential election. They spoke of the influence female candidates have on future generations.

[Kim]Salter [Chair of the event], who estimated about 500 people attended the event, said she was disappointed in the turnout. She attributed it to apathy, lack of time and the feeling many have that their vote doesn't make a difference.
[Emphasis added]

Yes, the turnout was deplorably low, but the event did happen, and younger women were present, brought not only by the mothers, but also their fathers. That's a good thing. Ms. Salter's comments on the reasons for the low turnout were probably accurate, although she left out the part about it being hotter than hell in Sacramento yesterday.

I was especially interested in her comment about "apathy," since that would seem to be a problem with both sexes, not just women. Are fewer women voting? Fewer than men? I checked out the federal government's Elections Assistance Commission website to see. Here's what I found for the 2000 election (the latest for which statistics were posted):

Of the VAP (Voting Age Population) for men, 62.2% registered to vote, and 53.1% of the VAP actually voted.

Of the VAP for women, 64.6% registered to vote, and 56.2% of the VAP actually voted.

Now, the VAP for 2000 is skewed somewhat. The census figures upon which this number is based included everyone, including those ineligable to vote because of non-citizenship status or felony conviction.

That said, however, the numbers are sad: a little more than half of the voting age public voted. Still, more women than men registered and then voted.

While it isn't great news, it certainly was good news. Now the trick is to figure out how to get more women and more men to go out and vote. People died to give us this right. It's the least we can do.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I have seen figures that show that young, single women tend not to vote in distressing numbers.

Here's to all the Suffragettes! Cool wymyn!


12:37 PM  

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