100-million women in the United States are poised to do what their great grandmothers pioneered just 92 years ago. They'll be able to go into a voting booth and make decisions independent of the men in their lives. In a nation still without an Equal Rights Amendment, we at least have the 19th amendment and suffragists Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone and many others to thank for women's right to vote that was ratified in 1920.
What is this powerful half of the populace concerned about in this historic election? For women and families, perhaps there's never been a time when more is at stake.
Director of Communications Kelly Caballos with the League of Women Voters says, "This may be the most important election of our lifetime. All voters, but particularly women and families, know that so much is on the line: jobs and economic stability, the health of our families, the sustainability of our environment and quality education. Voting is how we come together to support our families, each other and our communities. On Election Day, we all have an equal say. Every one of us has a chance to take control and have our say on the issues that matter most to us, not what matters to the politicians."
Moms Rising Executive Director Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner adds, "Women and mothers have a lot at stake in this election. We're concerned about providing for our families financially, making sure we have accessible health care, affordable child care, access to earned sick days, and that we have the ability to raise healthy, happy kids. We need policies and a president that will help us to find solutions to gender-based discrimination in hiring, promotion and wages; soaring childcare costs that exceed even the rising costs of a college education; lack of access to sick days and other essential supports."
The political ads and spin systems are more sophisticated than ever, especially now that talk shows often masquerade as news programs. Luckily, women also have more tools than ever to cut through the facade and find the facts behind various candidates. Whatever the issues closest to your heart, chances are you can find a voting record or another report from a nonprofit group on where your candidate stands.
Flour Sack Mama asked the League of Women Voters how to tell the difference between political puffery and facts these days. The LWV's Ceballos answers, "We have been working with the Annenberg Center on The Truth in Advertising project to help be sure that voters are hearing and seeing real facts in our political campaigns. You can take a look at the project here on our website. Also, we direct voters to our voter education website –VOTE411.org – where they can hear from the candidates in their own words through voters' guides."
Once you get the facts, your modern sisters in women's suffrage are asking you to help get out the vote. Moms Rising and many other groups are busy with get-out-the vote efforts, simply reminding others to exercise their right to vote on Tuesday. With full access to the facts, women can't be led to believe that any one party or candidate necessarily has a corner on family values or anything else. This election year's voter has a much more nuanced sense of the issues.
Moms Rising's Rowe-Finkbeiner adds, "Women are informed and networked like never before. Women know what's at stake for themselves and their families in this election and they're voting their interests."
Hurricane Sandy's upheaval of the Atlantic coast creates another potential barrier to women voting. Yet the government and watchdogs like the LVW are working to ensure everyone has a chance to cast a ballot. Ceballos says, "Our Leagues in states affected by the hurricane have been working with state and local elections officials to be sure that voters are not disenfranchised. We are glad to see that many officials have taken steps such as extending deadlines for absentee balloting, early voting hours and getting out the details of any changes to polling locations. The goal is to be sure that the election is run as smoothly as possible and plans have been put in place – and continue to be altered as needed – to be sure that happens."