On August 18th, 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment of the US Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote. Though it granted this right, there were still many barriers in place preventing Black and Native American women the ability to vote. And while this was an incredibly monumental moment in our country’s history, it also highlights why voting is so incredibly important.
Susan B. Anthony is regarded as one of the most influential women in US history and played a major role in the 19th amendment being ratified. Back in 1863 Susan B. Anthony, along with her friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton, founded the Women’s Loyal National League which collected over 400,000 signatures in support of the abolition of slavery. Just three years later, the pair initiated the American Equal Rights Association, that fought for equal rights for both women and African Americans. Not only did this woman fight tirelessly for equal rights, but in 1872 she was arrested after voting in her hometown of Rochester, New York (what a legend). In 1878, both Anthony and Stanton arranged for an amendment to be presented to Congress that granted women the right to vote. It wasn’t until August 18th, 1920, 14 years after Anthony passed away, that it was ratified as the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.
The 19th amendment also highlights how oppressive our nation is. If I was alive 100 years ago, I would have been able to vote. Why? Because I am white, I am straight, and I was born into an upper-middle-class household. Voter suppression is a part of our country’s past and present. In fact, it wasn’t until 45 years later that all states extended full voting rights to Black women and men with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Native Americans and Alaska Natives were also included in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but in 2013 the Supreme Court made a ruling that would ultimately affect equal access to the ballots in Arizona, Alaska, and two jurisdictions on South Dakota. Through 1996-2008 only 28 states have changed their laws to help restore felon voting rights.
To this day voter suppression still exists. It is used to silence, discriminate and oppress those who wish to challenge the system. It is a privilege to vote, and it is a right that should never be taken for granted.
A majority of the content I create, write, and share is centered around the outdoor industry, public lands, and sustainability. As I naïve child I thought that politics were separate from these issues. I used to not want to talk about politics or get involved, thinking that was the best option to “keep the peace.” But I am not here to keep the peace. Politics are embedded in nearly every single aspect of our lives and it is naïve to think otherwise. Politics are involved in the work we do, the food we eat, the roads we drive on, the relationships we have, our school system, our prison system, our public lands, and so much more. So, why does voting matter?
As we have seen more blatantly than ever before, elections have consequences. Our elected officials, along with what bills are or aren’t passed, shapes our lives and our future. As someone who lives on the west coast of the United States, it is easy to feel removed from what is happening in our country’s capitol. But the decisions made in DC affect our entire nation, from New York to Hawaii. Voting for officials and bills which will:
- address and work to correct the racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, ableist, and other oppressive systems, politicians, laws, corporations, and individuals within our society
- listen to scientific facts and experts about the climate crisis and take necessary action to preserve and protect our planet
- not only protect our public lands but work to increase access for all groups of people and acknowledge the ancestral heritage of these places to our native population
- serve ALL who reside in our nation rather than perpetuate a corrupt past
Elections provide an opportunity for change, and choosing to not vote, when so many are denied or restricted for using this right, is an incredibly selfish act. Yes, I vote to help protect and preserve the land I love exploring but I also vote to use my voice to support those who have been silenced for generations. I am proud to be a woman and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a huge crush on Susan B. Anthony. But we cannot celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth amendment without acknowledging that we still have a long way to go. GO VOTE THIS NOVEMBER like your life, the life of those you love, those you’ve never met, and the life of the planet depends on it, because it does.
Register to vote: https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote
Finding a voting location: https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/
Contact your local officials: https://komirisetti.com/EmailThem/