In every presidential election since 1980, women have voted at higher rates than men. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, this gender gap between female and male voters has also grown larger with each presidential election. And, according to the U.S. Census data for the 2000 presidential election, women controlled the voting in all 18 battleground states, with almost 3,000 more women voting than men.
On August 26, 2010, we celebrate the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. From the statistics of male versus female voters, it is obvious that women have not taken their right to vote lightly. Women can control and sway elections, ultimately changing the path of history – in 2000, Gore may have been elected if women were unable to vote.
As a young female voter in her 20’s, I have never felt the pride that comes with being a female voter. My entire life, I have felt as though voting was a right that I have as an American citizen. As a child, my parents urged me to vote as often as I could, and they never avoided an opportunity to set that example for me.
When granted the opportunity to register to vote as a senior in high school, many of my friends didn’t even feel the need to claim a connection to a party, and some didn’t even feel like registering to vote. Many of us asked, “Does it really matter if I vote? What difference is it going to make?” The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement reports that in 2004, however, young women voters between the ages of 18 and 29 turned out to much higher rates than young male voters. Even though young voters may be becoming more apathetic, females are still holding onto their recently acclaimed right to vote.
The first election my peers and I were able to vote in was a history-making election: Obama v. McCain. We had the opportunity to elect the first black president, and the youth came out in droves to help Obama secure victory. Even though my peers were apathetic when it came to registering, I remember the Facebook statuses I saw when the time came for my friends and I to cast our absentee ballots- “Voted for Obama today!” or “Go Obama!” I made sure to request my ballot early and cast it as soon as I could, and I still remember the chill I had go down my spine when I was able to cast my first vote because I knew I might be able to impact history in some way. As soon as the election actually came around, no one was apathetic any more. All my female friends wanted to vote, and I remember having many heated debates with my sister over who should become the next President of the United States.
What if I hadn’t had this opportunity? What if I hadn’t been able to vote? I would’ve felt like a second-class citizen. I would’ve felt like I couldn’t do very much to impact the course of this country. And while I know one vote didn’t impact much, the whole female vote made a huge difference and the whole youth vote changed the outcome of the election. Undoubtedly, it would’ve been different without the 19th Amendment.