One hundred years ago this week, the 19th Amendment was ratified.
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
This amendment gave equal representation to approximately 50% of the population – meaning women finally got the right to vote.
Finally, after years of marches, protests, hunger strikes and forced feedings, women won the right to vote with this amendment.
Finally, women got to step into a voting booth, step up to give their opinions about who should represent them, and about issues they expected the elected officials to consider.
Finally, and this took a lot longer, women could run for office themselves. They could step into those hallowed halls and vote on issues important to everyone, not just to women.
That right, the right to vote, is so very important today, despite the fact that there has been a gutting of the Voting Rights Act with gerrymandering, difficulty in registering to vote, and a move by our President to make mail voting incredibly difficult.
As former First Lady Michelle Obama said in her speech Monday during the televised virtual Democratic convention, we need to vote as if our lives depended on it.
While her speech was about the election of the next president in November, her words make a lot of sense when considering the 19th Amendment.
“That’s the story of America,” Obama said. “All those folks who sacrificed and overcame so much in their own times because they wanted something more, something better for their kids. There’s a lot of beauty in that story; there’s a lot of pain in it too, a lot of struggle and injustice, and work left to do.”
In 2016, a lot of people did not vote who had come out before – both men and women.
We don’t know how the election might have changed in 2016 if everyone took the time to vote – whether in early voting, by mail, or on Election Day.
We don’t know exactly why they didn’t vote. Maybe they didn’t like either candidate, maybe they felt their vote didn’t make a difference.
But the suffragettes suffered and some died, all to get women the right to vote. Tubes were forced down their throats to feed them when they went on hunger strikes. The suffragettes handcuffed themselves to railing to gain attention, they suffered imprisonment because they refused to pay fines levied them for their tactics.
Keep that in mind when we make this plea – get out and go vote. We don’t care if you vote Democratic or Republican; we don’t care if you pick and choose candidates on either side of the aisle.
We don’t care one iota whom you choose for President. (Well, we have a preference, but that is for another day.)
What is most important is that you vote.
If you want to vote by mail, then request the ballot. Ask for it, and then follow up and make sure it arrives back at the Hays County Clerk’s Office. Or drive the ballot to the Election Office in San Marcos and turn it in personally.
Vote early if you want to make that choice. Vote on Election Day is you want to do that.
The women who suffered to get us the right to vote should not have suffered in vain.
Years ago, there was a Hays County commissioner who, when someone came in to complain in his office, stopped them and looked to see if they had voted, before allowing them to continue.
In his opinion, they had no right to complain if they didn’t bother to vote.
That seems to be the case right now. Vote or shut up.