Early Voters at SGLC Celebrate 19th Amendment by sharing their voting experiences.
The first generations of women who voted in America knew a little something about the power of democracy. Just ask the residents at Seashore Gardens Living Center. Their grandmothers and mothers voted in those first elections so their voices could finally be heard. Several of our own residents were among the first women to vote in their families. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the women’s right to vote on August 26, 2020, they shared their thoughts.
“I think it’s important for everyone to vote, especially women,” said Lucille, the first one to vote in her family. “We’ve only recently begun to take advantage of our rights. For many years, we were focused on families. After World War II, we started becoming more active in the affairs of the state. I used to travel all over, and I could see how women were treated, held down and oppressed.” Lillian doesn’t consider herself political but over the years, she has supported women’s rights as well as civil rights and the environment.
Shirley, who does consider herself political, has shared her voice on nuclear power, gun laws, climate change, abortion, civil rights and desegregation. “My mother was the first woman in my family to vote,” she said. “I think it’s important for women to vote. We care deeply about the issues that affect everyday living.”
Rose, also the first woman in her family to vote, has supported countless issues over the years, including equal rights for women, civil rights, and the environment. “Why not? We’re just as intelligent as men,” she said. Gloria echoes that sentiment. “My opinion is women help make this world and should have a say,” she said. Anna has voted every year since she was 21. Her older sister was the first woman to vote in her family. “It’s important for women to vote to make sure we get the right one in the White House to do good for our country,” she said. “My mother insisted that her children vote regularly,” said Shelley. “She took it very seriously and would not reveal her party or candidate to anyone.”
Margaret was inspired to become an election judge for the democratic party for eight years. “If a woman could marry, raise a family, graduate college, go to work in order to help with the finances, she without a doubt should have every right to vote,” she said.
The residents’ enthusiasm for voting reflects what many women are feeling, according to data. “In recent elections, voter turnout rates for women have equaled or exceed voter turnout rates for men,” according to a 2019 report from the Center for American Women and Politics, Rutgers University. “Women also outnumber men among registered voters.” In addition, women are not only at the ballot box; they’re running for elected office in increasing numbers.
The residents at SGLC love casting their ballots at their Home each election. This year, due to the pandemic, they won’t have a chance to vote in person but they’re still determined to make a difference. On this hundredth anniversary milestone for women’s suffrage, they have a wonderful way for everyone to celebrate. “Go vote,” they said, “and make your voice heard, too.”
Did You Know?
Women had the right to vote well before the 19th amendment. At the time of our nation’s founding, women living in all of the 13 original states had the authorization to vote in all elections. They also had the authorization to vote in all 13 colonies that were to become the 13 states. As the new American states were establishing their own methods of governance (circa 1805) however, the privilege allowing women to vote was never included in any of the state constitutions, thus disallowing women the power of the vote. This enraged American women and they sought to remedy this situation via a series of meetings with male government officials which proved non-productive.
In 1848, a group of women including Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Stanton Cody and Alice Paul, assembled a meeting of fellow activists. The meeting, titled the Seneca Falls Convention, produced a Declaration of Statements and established a cadre of protesters that became known as the Suffragettes. For the 72 years following the Seneca Falls event, the Suffragettes, always clad in white garments, took part in demonstrations, parades and other forms of public display to push for the necessary amendment to the Constitution that would finally make women’s suffrage a legal right.
The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote nationally on August 18, 1920, but it wasn’t made official until it was certified by the U.S. Secretary of State on August 26 of that year. The day is now known as Woman’s Equality Day.