100 Years Ago, Women Got the Right to Vote: Today, 100 Women Explain What That Means To Them

In August 1920, the 19th amendment gave most women the power to vote. To celebrate 100 years of women speaking up at the polls, E! asked 100 women from all walks of life what this right means to them.

Hey Hamilton fans, we've got another history lesson for you. 

When Alexander Hamilton, George Washington and 37 other delegates signed the Constitution in 1787, they did so with a promise. "We the people," began the document that established the nation and its fundamental laws. Except, they didn't actually mean all the people.

Black men were slaves, Native Americans defined as aliens and women seen as the property of their husbands. "It was we the people," women's rights activist Susan B. Anthony declared in 1872, "not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union."

Hers was another rallying call in the decades-long cry for equal rights, a fight that was still, somehow, just beginning. For another half century, fearless women—Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ida B. Wells and more names forever etched in our history—spoke out, campaigned, protested and, yes, were even arrested as they demanded their voices be heard and be given the same consideration as men.

That time finally came in August 1920 when the 19th amendment officially went into effect, giving most women the power to vote. (It would take another 45 years for women of color to be able to exercise that same right.)

Come that November, more than 8 million proud women arrived at the polls, ready to vote for the very first time. At this moment, in the 2020 election, more than 90 million people have already voted, women turning out en masse, filling out their ballots in the hopes of creating a better world for themselves, their children and each generation to follow. 

Their reasons are as myriad as the women themselves, but the underlining motivation is the same: Just as Anthony advocated all those years ago, they just want their voices to be heard.

Today, to celebrate 100 years of women speaking up at the polls, we asked 100 women from all ages, backgrounds and walks of life what this right means to them. Their answers are raw, passionate and, honestly, really damn empowering. The excitement of an 18-year-old casting her first vote mixed with the experience of a 100-year-old still eager to fill in those ballot bubbles is guaranteed to fill you with pride—and purpose.

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Nonnie Egbuna, 22: I vote because it feels like the least I can do to be an active citizen. I think that in many ways, my voice can bring about real change and it joins other voices in this moment fighting for the same things. Black people in America literally died for me to be able to fill in those bubbles. It's the least I can do.

 

Jade Pettyjohn, 19: I vote because our government is nothing if not the echo and amplification of the voices of the people it serves. My parents raised me to care about people and to be fiercely unafraid to speak up for myself and for others. I vote to keep our democracy alive and support those that listen to the people.

 

Bailey Cancasci, 20: The right to vote allows me to express my love for my surrounding communities and gives me a sense of overwhelming relief. It allows me to reflect on the women who sacrificed their identity, safety and freedoms to initiate change in women's rights—and to truly acknowledge their initiation and progress. As a first time voter, I feel nervous and excited as I anxiously await to hear the outcome. In a time full of so much hatred and denial, I have seen such beauty and potential in all that we can be and that in itself leaves me feeling honored to be a part of so much more than what we acknowledge as a single vote.

Bernice Amaya, 22: When stripped down to the core voting is simple: I just fill in a couple bubbles on a piece of paper. However, why I vote is complex. I vote for my two younger sisters who will be going to college in a few years, my mom who is a woman that works for men and my dad who is a Mexican immigrant. Lastly, I vote for myself because Gen Zers and I have a lot to fix throughout this lifetime. 

 

Hallie Sheldon, 23: I choose to vote because it is a way to make a difference in a world that seems so hard to change. I want to ensure that the right people are in office to represent people from all walks of life and I get to do that by voting.

 

Sydney Taylor, 23: Voting is so incredibly important, especially in the time we're in right now. There are a lot of young voters out there who are under the impression that their vote doesn't count. But one vote towards no one is still a vote. We need change and the only way to achieve that is by speaking up and doing your part as a citizen. 

 

Natalie Mariduena, 23: Voting is crucial to the betterment of our society which is why it's so, so important to vote, otherwise how else would you expect to get s–t done?! I want to live in a clean, healthy and morally compliant world and the future of our planet is on the ballot!

Ashley Becker, 18: In April, when I turned 18, I was excited to finally be able to vote—this year especially because of this much-anticipated election. This election is definitely one that will not be forgotten and it is special for me to voice my opinion by voting. Not only did I feel excited, but I also felt a sense of obligation. It is so important that everyone exercises their right to vote.

 

LaToya Tonodeo, 23: I vote because I recognize my voice matters. There's POWER in a vote. So I'm going to use every opportunity to let my voice be heard!

 

McKenna Sulick, 20: When I fill out my ballot, I do so while keeping in mind all the women who were ridiculed, not taken seriously and laughed at when they wanted to vote. In the face of the men who mocked them, they marched, protested, tirelessly fought and eventually won to be able to take part in the somewhat holy act of voting. I feel that if I didn't vote, I'd be wasting the incredible ability that these women before me fought so hard to stake their claim on. Voting is so much more than using a pen to fill in a box. It's using that sacred power and unwavering sense of knowing within you to effect the change you want to see.

Sara Ghanbariami, 29: As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Voting is showing up for what matters to you. Be loud, go vote!

 

Beanie Feldstein, 27: The first time I voted, I was a sophomore in college and I was voting for President Barack Obama's second term. This year feels completely and utterly different. There has never been a more important election. Too much is at stake: the environment, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ rights, women's rights, immigrants' rights, affordable healthcare, COVID-19, the list goes on and on. We must vote for someone with compassion and empathy.

 

Paria Sadighi, 36: To vote, or not to vote. It's as synonymous as "to be, or not to be." What a privilege to have that choice. A privilege we, as Americans, must fiercely protect in order to be seen, to be heard and to be free. As an immigrant, the power and the privilege in our ability to vote is one I will never take for granted. We are given choices every day to be, or not to be. I pray we are all very deliberate in protecting the future of this country by voting.

 

Emmy Raver Lampman, 32: Growing up I never really paid much attention to politics. But watching the first Black man get elected into the White House felt like I was witnessing real change. I was living in a monumental moment in American history. I had voted and my vote had counted. When we are young it's easy to feel small. And sometimes societies want us to feel that way. But voting is a way to be heard. Voting is a way to speak out. Voting gives voice to the change you want, the change you need and the change you deserve. Not only for ourselves but for the generations to come.

 

Katherine McNamara, 24: Voting is not only a right. It is a privilege. It is a rare honor and duty we have as Americans to choose our leadership, our laws and to help shape the nation we call home. Our nation was founded by individuals who saw the flaws in their communities and dreamed of creating a nation where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were guaranteed to all people. It seems today we are faced with a very similar precipice. Especially as women, on this the 100th anniversary of women being granted the right to vote, please do your part, make your voice heard and exercise that right. Do it for the women of the world who do not have the right to choose, do it for the future generations who are counting on us to heal the world for their sake and do it for yourself to be a part of the change we wish to see.<

Ariele Stewart, 33: As the mother of a young daughter, I'm voting not just for myself, but for her future. I want her to see that women change the world, that our voices matter. I want her rights to be codified and I want to elect politicians up and down the ballot who will fight for her rights and for the safety of the world she and her peers are going to inherit. There is a big misconception that the President, Senate and Congress are the biggest influencers of public policy and, while they do influence so much, local politicians have so much power. We need local government officials to work for the people who elected them, and even "regular people" need to be involved, whether that means going to local school board meetings, joining a planning committee or just calling up your representatives to let them know what needs to be addressed in your community. One of my most powerful voting experiences was voting for the first female candidate for president back in 2016 with my mother and my best friend at the elementary school I attended myself. While that election didn't turn out the way I'd hoped, I know that it was an inciting incident for so many of my friends and family to take a bigger look at our political machines and work harder to change them.

 

Jackie Cruz, 34: Latinx-ers are a huge and growing voting bloc. We have to come out and flex our power to ensure that we have inclusive and accountable government that reflects the issues and values that are important to our community. Issues like immigration and access to jobs, housing, education and health care can only be addressed equitably when our Latinx voices are heard. This means educating ourselves on the candidates, understanding the what's on the ballot and turning out to vote.

 

Sabba Rahbar, 30: Voting makes me feel empowered and elated. I get to take part in something bigger than myself and make my voice heard. As a first generation American, it's especially exciting as I get to do something that members of my family could never even have dreamed about 50 years ago. Voting is and will always be one of the most important rights Americans have and I hope that more and more of them take advantage of that.

 

Stephanie Buckwalter, 35: I vote to make my voice heard. I vote to honor the women who came before me and fought so hard for my right to vote. I vote for those who have no voice. I vote to make the future better and brighter.

Ashlyn Harris, 35: I vote because my voice matters. I vote for the safety of my wife and family. I vote for my LGBTQ+ community. I vote for people who look like me and especially people who don't. I vote because equality matters to me.

 

Ashley Spencer, 33: Americans abroad historically fail to vote because the issues back home seem so distant to their current ex-pat lives. But for me, a U.S. citizen currently living in Australia, voting feels more important than ever. I've watched in horror as coronavirus deaths spiral out of control in America, putting my family and friends at risk, while Australia and other countries have managed to control outbreaks through decisive action. The outcomes of U.S. elections have global implications and I proudly voted by mail (technically, fax!) from 7,500 miles away to hopefully elect a president who will listen to scientists, address systemic racism and fight for the rights of women and marginalized Americans. Even if you're not enthused by either candidate, there is so much at stake. Please don't throw away your vote! The world is watching.

 

Hannah Grover, 29: I vote so that my morals and priorities are given a voice. I do not take for granted the right and responsibility I have to vote because of the brave women who fought so hard to secure that right for me. One hundred years later, women not only play a critical role in deciding who wins elections, but are represented in races up and down the ticket.

 

Lo Bosworth, 34: Having your voice be heard through your vote is one of the most impactful ways you can help your community, whether it's at the local, state or federal level. I voted for the first time in 2008. Not only was it thrilling to exercise my constitutional right, but it was exciting to vote for change, hope and a more equal future for all. Today, I'm voting for hope again more than anything else, a reflection of the future we hope to create for Black people and people of color, my gender, the LGBTQ community and our planet.

 

Sammi Hintze, 26: I vote because my vote will make a difference. It gives me the opportunity to make change and stand up for what I believe in. I might be one voice, but together, we can all make an army.

Pierre Joseph, 36: This is the first presidential election I voted in since I became a citizen in the United States. This is such a critical right, duty and privilege. The country where I was born, my vote didn't mean much even though I voted. But I am confident that here, in the U.S., things will be different.

 

Hannah Bronfman, 33: I remember when Al Gore lost to [George W.] Bush and being very confused about the popular vs. electoral college vote. Then the first presidential election I was able to vote in was in 2008 when Obama won. And now, as I embark on motherhood, I am even more inclined to vote because I want to bring my baby into an environmentally safe and racially just America.

 

Erin McCart, 39: Having the ability to vote means we have control over advocating for our beliefs. After facing massive state shutdowns, closed schools, skyrocketing unemployment and countless protests, we were all delivered a powerful reminder on the importance of voting so we can have a say on the characteristics and decisions we want in our leaders. Our voting privilege, something we did not always have, and many people around the world still unfortunately don't have, is one of our most sacred freedoms as an American.

 

Jessi Raulet, 34: I'm a Black American voter living abroad in France and voting has always been imperative. To me, voting is about using our collective voice to take our future into our own hands, but this only works if we all do our part! The U.S.'s reputation has motivated me even more to make sure my friends and family back home are voting as well. No matter what, I will be sure to do my part, even though I'm an ocean away.

 

Alexandria "Dria" Baum, 33: Voting is not something to take lightly, especially if you have the right to vote. We couldn't be at a more critical time in our country and it's truly important to make your voice heard every way possible, so that we can continue to fight for social justice and equality for all. As a bi-racial Latina, I want to remind young Black and Brown voters that as our communities grow, so does our power. Use yours and vote!

 

Katie Harris, 34: Voting gives us the opportunity to shape our future. That's so incredibly precious, especially when women have only had a say for 100 years. If one person wants to change the world, it can feel very lonely. It's easy to feel small and powerless looking at big problems, particularly when politicians try to bully opponents into silence. When we vote, we join our voices and become powerful together. When we vote, we change the future together. Voting lets us say in one clear, strong voice, "We deserve better, and we demand

Karina Borge-Chediak, 38: 2008 was the first election I had the privilege of voting in. It was so monumental for me because not only had I waited all my life to be a citizen, but now I also had a voice. Today, I see the numbers of early-voters cast and I get chills down my spine. This country is not about blue or red states. The America I have always envisioned is united and empathetic to all walks of life. I vote for all minorities, for every LGBTQ+ youth, for all women and, most importantly, I vote for my daughters. It is important for them to understand that their moms value democracy and understand that our rights are constantly being challenged. We need to be bold, we need to be loud and we need to be confident that the people will prevail.

 

Isabel Alysa, 31: I am voting to be an example for my daughter. We need to vote now because our children need our voice. Your voice needs to be heard. Don't think that you are just a number. Every vote counts and, more than ever, we need peace and change in our world.

 

Madison Keys, 25: Women fought so hard for the right to vote and it's not something I take for granted. I feel like it's something I'm honored to get to do. I think voting is important so your voice can be heard, which is why I feel it's important to vote in all elections, big or small. I always take the time to research ahead of time who or what I'm voting for to make sure I can make an educated decision based on what I believe is the best choice.

 

Chelsea Rendon, 27: Being a woman, a Brown woman, I have to stand up for myself and all the women that will come after me. We have to continue the fight the women started 100 years ago. I am voting for all the undocumented people that can't vote, for all the women that continue being pushed aside.

 

Melissa Heuer, 31: I believe this election may end up being the most critical of my lifetime. I'm voting for my niece and nephew—and for all of the children of their generation. I look at the financial and economic hardship that my generation inherited because those who came before us were not advocating for—or even thinking about—us. Our planet is dying, climate change is causing extreme, destructive weather and our human and civil rights are on the ballot. I hope that my generation takes our responsibility to make this country a better place and to fights for those who will come after us seriously.

Hayley Kiyoko, 29: Our votes, actions and voices impact our community, our neighbors and dictate our future. It is vital to fight for each other's freedom and justice because our lives and opportunities in this country depend on it. We all have a duty to understand the magnitude of what is at stake. Gender equality, healthcare, LGBTQ+ rights, education, economic inequality, racial injustice, immigrants' rights, climate change are all on the ballot.

 

Claire Odorico, 27: I have always believed voting was important to fulfill my civic duty, but this election feels particularly important. I am voting for my students; my low income students, my BIPOC students, my LGBTQ students. All of my students deserve a future where Black lives matter, where public schools are funded well enough to give them the education they deserve, where equality is the law and where there is a planet to house them.

 

Whitney Port, 35: Voting is important for me because I believe in democracy. Voting is my way of expressing my voice and paying respects to the people who fought and died to provide me that right.

 

Tanya Rad, 33: I vote because my parents immigrated to this country to give me a better life and I don't take that for granted. Voting is a privilege and, especially as a modern woman, I want my voice heard. Let's encourage and lead through love!

 

Rae Sise, 24: Like never before has the fundamental right to vote for positive change been so crucial. When the suffragettes peacefully protested and picketed, they were demanding to be heard, to be included in the not so evident truths of American representation. Following years of fighting to be a part of our "fair union" the historical passage of the 19th amendment has led us to this moment. Voting in the 2020 election is truly the vote of our lifetime, as we have the chance to demand change for racial, reproductive and civil rights justice is on the line.

 

Amanda Oddo, 37: Voting means more to me than just a ballot in a box to be counted. It's not just a box to be checked, but a moment in time that gives power to making a difference. The difference to choose between right and wrong. The difference to influence, the difference to believe in change. Where would we be as a nation if that one person didn't believe they could make a difference? I vote for change and to leave this world knowing that I've bestowed the same values among my children to do the same.

Tiffany Boone, 33: I vote because so many people fought (sometimes to their death) for my right to vote. As a Black woman, voting is a part of how I honor those who came before me. Each time I vote, I feel the presence of my ancestors.

 

Henah Parikh, 29: Women of color have long fought for my right to vote and it's important to me to exercise that, especially when there's so much at stake. I'm voting not just for me, but for my fellow women, indigenous and people of color, Black lives, the LGBTQIA+ community and everyone whose lives will be affected by how we all choose to vote. There's too much at risk not to and as someone in the social impact space, this is one of the best ways to be an informed, active global citizen.

 

October Gonzalez, 39: When I was younger I used to think, "How could my one little vote make a difference?" But I quickly realized that our government is meant to be for the people by the people and that means you and me. If I don't vote, we all lose our voice. Voting makes me feel heard and powerful.

 

Holly Allen, 32: My great great great uncle cast the deciding vote that allowed women to vote in the state of Wyoming. We officially became the first state in the nation to do so, thus giving us the name The Equality State. Voting is an honor and a privilege for everyone and cannot be taken away regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or economic class. Using our voices is a powerful and beautiful thing!

 

Alisha Agdorny, 24: I am voting because I feel as if older generations do not have my best interest at heart and I do not want to let them speak on issues for me. I want to use my vote to move the nation towards change I believe in. I think voting is vital to me because there are still people that do not get a voice. I feel it's important for me to use my vote to advocate for politicians who are for the betterment of all of us instead of their own personal agenda.

 

Carissa Snow, 27: The first election that I was old enough to vote in was the 2012 primary election. It was exciting to me because not only did I have a say in who my party's presidential candidate was going to be, but I also had the honor of voting for my dad as mayor of our town. The 2020 election feels much different to me. I am a mother now, so I can't just pick the candidate I like or strictly vote along party lines. I have to think about my children's futures and what I hope the next generation will inherit. I have to vote for someone other than myself.

Michele Naudin, 25: As a new attorney, I've learned that the liberties and freedoms we have in our country are what gives us the ability to strive for a more perfect union. Women before me walked so that I could run. I don't take it for granted that my voice matters in this country. My vote is my voice.

 

Tess Holliday, 35: This year marks the 100th year anniversary that women were given the right to vote and it even feels weird saying that…that women weren't always able to vote. I am so incredibly grateful for the women that forged their way to give us the opportunity to exercise such an important right. I urge you all to not only vote for the things that matter to you, but as a country, it shouldn't matter someone's immigration status, race, gender, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. None of that matters. We are all in this together and the only way we're going to get through this is together.

 

Lindsay Berg, 30: My ancestors and the ancestors of other disenfranchised groups fought hard for our right to vote. I am voting to continue those fights and lead the way for future generations. In this crucial election, it is now our turn to vote for progress—for ourselves and for others. One vote might not seem like much, but together, we can make an impact.

 

Christina Nicholson, 36: I think it's more important than ever for women's voices to be heard. I hate seeing pictures of only men in government making decisions about birth control. I hate the sexist comments I receive on social media on almost a daily basis from men. I hate that I can't go to certain places by myself because it's not as safe for a woman. There are so many issues women face today that men don't see because they don't faze them and would never even realize exist unless they happen to eavesdrop on them. I vote because so many people worked hard for my right to so. It matters…and I can.

 

Karrueche Tran, 32: I'm voting because I am hopeful for a better future. The first time I voted I played a part in helping elect our first Black President and I couldn't have been more proud. My voice is important and in order to see change, we have to demand change.

 

Dascha Polanco, 37: Voting means having a choice, having a voice. The wombs who carry tomorrow's leaders should be able to choose who leads the way. It's not entitlement, it's equality.

Jill Justin, 45: I always cry when I vote, even if I don't feel emotional going in. That moment I hit the button I know that I am a part of history. It's a feeling of pride. Every presidential election affects history in a monumental way and I am a part of that history each time I vote.

 

Tamron Hall, 50: My father served in the army for nearly 27 years. My mother taught children in schools where the kids were all too often given less and expected to do more. Voting means having the voice of all people heard not just some.

 

Heather Marianna, 40: Voting is the power we have to elect into office who we want. It's more than a privilege, it's an imperative duty that determines our future. Our elected leaders of the nation are supposed to represent the people and we are so fortunate to have the ability to vote so we can hold these officials accountable. My voice, values and opinion matters.

 

Gizelle Bryant, 50: I didn't have to go through what my dad had to go through in order to register to vote but, because of it, it means so much more to me. It's my right, it's what my forefathers had to fight for to get, but it's also just an honor. I'm an American and I want to feel like an American. And, the most American way to feel like that is to be able to vote in this country. So it means everything.

Allison Winn Scotch, 46: I have been a voter since I was 18. I remember my first presidential election when I was a sophomore in college and being so excited and fulfilled to have my voice be heard. Since then, there were only two other elections that matched that excitement: Casting a ballot for what I thought was going to be our first female president and, just a few days ago, when I euphorically dropped my vote off in a ballot box near my home. I'm voting to restore trust, decency, honesty, compassion, science and justice back to our country. I believe in a unified America, I believe in our potential, I believe that we are going to turn the tide back toward our best selves on November 3rd. And knowing that my one vote will be part of this sea change is probably the best thing that I've done all year.

 

Jennifer Crist, 51: With today's injustices at the forefront, I feel even more responsible to vote. I feel that my vote counts as support for those who feel unheard. Women have sacrificed—and it's my duty to represent them by voting for a president who respects women.

 

Ryan Michelle Bathe, 44: My grandmother was born in 1911 in a small town in Tennessee just 46 years after slavery was over.  I never thought to ask her about the first time she voted. She's gone now, but I vote because I know what a hard won fight it was in her lifetime.  I honor her memory every time I exercise our right to vote.

 

Alyssa Milano, 47: I know we hear this a lot, but this really is the most important election of our lifetime. Voting is how we take care of each other and it's how we protect the most vulnerable among us.

 

Sandra Skordalos, 57: As a teenager in the late 1970s, I was formulating my political views and passion amid the crisis over the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. As a young feminist, I was devastated by the efforts of others to be in opposition of its ratification. It was then that I decided to study political science to better understand the political process and, at the same time, I made a promise to myself to work toward equality for underrepresented groups in political office. My vote is one vehicle to fulfilling that promise.

Patti Murin, 40: I vote because being a true part of something means being able to have your say, whether it is in a relationship, in a family or as a citizen of a democracy. This year, I also vote for my daughter. She's three months old and I want to be able to be a role model for her as she grows up and begins to understand what it means to speak up, especially as a woman. Women's voices haven't been welcome in the conversation until relatively recently—and I want her to know that she can be as loud as she wants. It is her right.

 

Jennifer Weiner, 50: I vote for my daughters, so that they can enjoy all of the freedoms that generations of women have fought for: the right to decide when, and if, to have children; the right to marry the person they love; the right to equal opportunities; the right to work in a setting that's free from harassment; to live in a world where they can't be discriminated against because of their sex or religion; the right to live their truth.

 

Wendie Hopson, 55: Voting is so important to me because, as much as I love to complain, I want to be part of the solution. Casting my vote makes me feel empowered. I believe this year my vote for president is the most important vote of my life.

 

Rachael Harris, 52: This is your opportunity to be heard. By you going out and voting, you're actually exercising your right to have a say in what goes on in your country. This election is about more than who's going to be president. It's about our right to healthcare. It's about our right to birth control. It's about our right to how we feel about fertility issues. As someone who struggled with infertility, I am so grateful for in vitro fertilization. Regardless of what happens, at least I'll be able to say well I showed up. I voted.

Jeannie Mai, 41: I vote because I want to contribute to the change, reform and evolution of this country for the better. I also vote because my family sacrificed so much so that I could have the privileged right to vote and I don't take that for granted. I don't think any American should!

 

Grace Ramirez, 55: Our lives are gifts and our time on this planet is our opportunity to make something happen. We can either be catalysts for growth, compassion, healing, empowerment and inspiration—or we can drown in a complacency that makes a mockery of our opportunity to thrive. Voting moves us toward the creation of something incredible. It provides a visible target of a united voice to unleash potential. For me, a woman of color, it finally gives me a chance to initiate an American ideal that is inclusive and reflective of the whole.

 

Jillian Michaels, 46: I think of all the people who've literally died fighting for the right to vote, the ability to express their opinions and the privilege to have their voice matter and I am so grateful. I will not and cannot ever allow myself to take this incredible freedom for granted.

 

Elle Gerstein, 47: My grandmother and mother would bring me—and later my daughter—into the polling booths with them. When they weren't voting, they volunteered as poll workers as a way to help as many people vote as possible. My mother volunteered with campaigns in New York in the 60s, 70s and 80s and encouraged everyone and anyone to vote. That has stuck with me through all of these years because with each and every election (both large and small) there is an opportunity to share your voice and contribute to determine the people who represent us. Even 100 years after the 19th amendment, we still have to come out and share our voices and represent because we have a ways to go! It's an honor to be a part of that legacy. Vote early or vote on election day, but always vote.

 

Merle Dandridge, 45: There have been so many moments of feeling powerless this year. But, oh, how powerful I feel when I exercise my voting superpower. It is a privilege that was not previously afforded to generations of people who look like me and I feel purposed in the impact and world-changing conversations a vote creates.

Altheria Caldera, 45: We have the privilege of choosing elected officials who represent our values, individuals who will push us towards the principles outlined in the constitution—namely, that all humans are created equal. I vote because I care deeply about my fellow citizens, especially those for whom equal rights have yet to be realized. I care about justice for our planet. And I also care about those throughout the world who are impacted by the decisions we make in the U.S. I vote because it's my responsibility and right as a citizen in a democratic society. It is up to all of us to do our part to create the kind of country we want to live in and voting is one way we make our vision a reality. Black women are often portrayed as unpatriotic, but the percentage of Black women voters is among the highest of all demographic groups. Voting is a principal act of patriotism. We vote because we do, in fact, care about our country. When we unite around the issues that matter to us, there's power in each individual vote!

 

Mayim Bialik, 44: Voting is important for me personally because I am a second-generation American, which means that my parents and, my mother in particular, were first-generation Americans. And my mother was the first woman in my family to ever vote. So, I vote to honor her legacy and the legacy in particular of the women who came before me and didn't have that option.

 

Molly Spalding, 42: I've always voted, but my individual vote feels more important this year than ever before. I'm a mom, Catholic and pro-life, but being pro-life means much more than just being anti-abortion. It's respect for life: immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ+, death row inmates. This country needs a leader who actually cares about everyone.

 

Daphna E. Ziman, 52: It's important to vote because our voice is the only way we can demand the change we want to see. In fact, our votes are our own declaration of independence. As a nation, our collective voices are the future of our country.

Gina Torres, 51: My family was torn apart by politics, as 90 percent of them were still in Cuba during the Cold War. I saw first-hand what it was like not to have a voice. To have to hide your truth for fear of retribution. I was raised to not take my freedoms as an American for granted. No freedoms are more precious than the ones to peacefully protest, worship or not without fear of persecution and, most importantly, the right to vote. I vote for those who gave their lives. I vote for my family that never experienced their value as hard working members of a beautiful collective.

 

Alison Sweeney, 44: My great grandmother on my mom's side was one of the women who marched for women's suffrage with Susan B. Anthony. Every time I vote I think of her and all the brave women who stood up for our right to vote. I feel I owe it to them to educate myself on the issues, so that I can vote for what I feel best helps our community.

 

Coleen Koralek, 47: I have always felt a sense of pride when I have voted. It is the simple, little sticker with the American flag that is handed to me after voting. I am proud to be an American and I am so very thankful to call this my country. Our country deserves a great leader with a great amount of support. As a nurse, I feel this year has to be a record voter turnout.

 

Laura A. Wasser, 52: To me, voting means having a choice, having a voice, being a part of effectuating change and improvement. It is one of the most important rights we as Americans have and it astonishes me that some people, particularly women, abdicate or ignore this privilege. Access to justice, remedies for our environment, cultural evolution and our choices as members of this fantastic nation are all rooted in our right to vote. Simply put, it means everything.

Collette McIntyre Wilson, 74 years young: When I was in fifth grade, my teacher Miss Turney—while teaching history—said that a foreign country did not have to attack the United States with weapons. They should just wait until people become apathetic and they can run candidates and take over. This really touched my mind and I have never missed a chance to vote! I have always believed that voting is our power, our chance to have our voice heard. This year I am also working the polls, counting ballots. This year is probably the most important election I have ever participated in.

 

Sandy Wrigley, 59: Having grown up in South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s during apartheid, I witnessed the terrible injustice and powerlessness of Black citizens who were denied the right to vote. One of the most meaningful days of my life was April 26, 1994 when Black citizens were allowed to vote for the first time in 342 years since white settlers arrived in South Africa. All citizens peacefully stood together in long lines for hours on end waiting to cast their vote, leading to a new National Assembly in which Black South Africans and women served in significant numbers for the first time ever. I moved to the U.S. in 2004 and became a citizen in 2013. I am so grateful that I now have the right to vote in a U.S. presidential election. Every American needs to do their civic duty and vote—voting is an essential part of any democracy. A president should embody decency, honesty and compassion, the qualities women want to instill in our children. And we will take this to the polls. Never underestimate the power of a woman's vote!

 

Linda Olshansky, 68: As a baby boomer going to school in the 1960s and 70s, women were just starting to break away from the stereotypical housewives and go out in the workplace and become independent. It was very important for us to be heard in regards to reproductive rights, which is how we got Roe v. Wade into the spotlight. Even now, 50 years later, women still do not have equal rights and we must do something about it. Voting is the key and we need more women in power in order to do that.

Raffaella Schnurr, 56: As an Italian immigrant and woman, I am honored every time I cast my vote. I represent my hardworking parents who weren't able to vote—and I protect my daughters' and future granddaughters' rights.

 

Mona Goshen, 67: I vote this year because I owe it to those who carried the baton in this long relay for women's rights, those who fought hard and won their place in history before handing the baton to my generation. Much of what we fought for stands to be ripped away. Still, I remember it is important to put foot in front of the other, to embrace the small victories, to step in to the ballot box and do my part until I hand the baton to the next generation of proud women who will carry on the legacy of herstory.

 

DeeAnn Collins, 67: I vote to make a difference and so my voice will be heard. It took a long time for women to have the privilege to vote and I take pride when voting. I think of all the woman that fought for this privilege.

 

Lisa Malec, 65: Voting is not only a right; it is a privilege and an honor. The right to vote has empowered American women. We are stronger and more confident than ever before. Voting is a chance for our collective voices to be heard, acknowledged and counted. American women matter!

Harriette Rovner Ferguson, 61: I vote for so many reasons. It's my moral and ethical obligation as a citizen. But most importantly, as the mother of two biracial children, I vote to ensure their future and protect their rights to a freedom to live in a democracy that recognizes all of us as equal.

 

Denise Kaczmarek, 61: A woman that is a NASA astronaut voted from space! That makes me proud to be an American woman. My daughters and their future children need us to get it together for this country. I've not been a political person in my lifetime. I'm passionate now more than ever to bring the return of love to our U.S.A.

 

Kristen Kappes Aiello, 59: As I get older, my views become directed more towards what type of world do I want to leave for my child and her family. I want a population that understands empathy, is globally conscious, understands we are all equal and should be united for the betterment of society and not looking out for individual needs. My vote this year, more than any other I can remember, symbolizes my ideology. I believe that through my vote I can help change the direction of this county and we can become a nation I am proud to be a part of.

 

Gloria Barreiro-Blom, 60 and fabulous: I feel it is important that women get out and vote. Our voices need to be heard. Women need to be seen as equals. Existing pay disparities for men and women who are performing the same work and job is my fight!

Elizabeth Palmer, 59: Despite waiting in line for 45 minutes in pouring rain for Election 2020, I felt overwhelming pride. A feeling of belonging as I stood in the storm to vote. A relief knowing that I had one thing in common with those with different views. We are all Americans. We all belong here.

 

Harriet Thurstlic, 69: Voting is a legacy that too many Americans fail to appreciate. Leaders of the American Revolution were committed to a philosophy that promoted democratic ideals. Washington refrained from crowning himself king. The founding fathers established checks and balances to protect our republic. Women and people of color have suffered, bled and died for the right to vote. Our democracy is aspirational, but we have not achieved equality. And so, the struggle continues. I am a 69-year-old woman who believes this election to be the most consequential of my life. Wishing will not ensure a continuation of and an opportunity to perfect our democracy… voting will.

 

Kelly Cannon, 64: I have never missed voting in any election since I turned 18. I feel voting is important because so many countries have rulers and kings and the U.S. allows us to have a voice. Sadly, many do not feel this is important and, in 2016, less than half of eligible voters participated. Whatever party you are, this is an important time to vote. But more important is to research your candidates. Does what they stand for match your wants and needs? I am so thankful for the women before me who fought for me to have a voice and not just be property for a husband.

 

Barbara Corcoran, 71: For me, voting is power. I'm grateful for the strong women who paved the way and allowed us to use that power today to make our voices heard.

Marie Elena, 84: Voting is very important to me because some women have died for the right. I want to express my opinion. I always hope that my candidate wins, but, at the end of the day, I want my voice heard.

 

Cynthia Blynn, 90: We did it: Women won the right to vote. Let's use it! I never miss a chance to vote. I'm included in helping to make good decisions for our country through my vote. Maybe someday we may even find that women are being paid according to the same pay scales as the men who are working beside them.

 

Jan Berta, 85: At 85, I'm grateful to make informed choices and live in a country that was founded on freedom of speech. I recently received a document that tracked my voting history and I am proud to say I am "an above average voter." I'm also happy to have lived long enough to see my grandchildren exercise their right to vote.

 

Mary Frances Timmons O'Moran Brown, 101: I have to vote because this country gave my family hope and opportunity. It would be irresponsible and ungrateful not to vote.

Rose Holz, 100: One hundred years of women voting makes me feel old!  It gives me a feeling of importance, as much as how men feel about their importance in being able to vote. I vote because I think the average person—not the rich, famous individual—has a right to be heard from their point of view and the way they live their lives. I feel it is a privilege to be able to vote and not to be ruled over by other people. It's great that we can speak our peace and I hope that the people who get elected remember why they represent the people.

 

Debra Levin, 80: Voting is not only patriotic—it's a very important right of every citizen. If you don't take part in our democracy by voting, you're forgoing your ability to impact how our government is run. Many countries have much higher percentages of their population who votes and it took up until this election for many more people to make an effort to get out and vote for change. Thanks to the suffrage movement, women are an equal part of the voting public. This year more than ever—with the pandemic, the poor economy and racial strife—exercising ones right to vote is imperative.

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