In Honor Of Women’s Equality Day Millennial Women Reflect On Their First Voting ExperienceBy Eve Stern
Aug. 25 2016, Published 9:49 a.m. ET
In 1971, the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. The day celebrates the passing of the 19th Amendment, the day when white women received the right to vote.
And 45 years after the holiday and 96 years since earning the right to vote, this November for the first time women have the option to elect a woman as President.
For many millennials, we first experienced electing or watching Barack Obama become Commander in Chief, and now are participating in another momentous time in history. Below is the joint resolution of Congress 1971 designating August 26th as Women’s Equality Day:
“WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States.
BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.”
This right has served us the opportunity to vote in a crucial election between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, but more so, a chance to watch a massive shift in American culture and power dynamics.
If you don’t believe your vote matters, just look at the election in 2012. Single American women are a driving political force to be reckoned with. According to New York Magazine, unmarried women made up a majority of voters within every demographic: 40 percent of the African-American voters, about 30 percent of Latino voters, and roughly a third of all young voters.
In honor of this special day, we spoke to millennial women and asked them to share what their first experiences voting meant to them.
Chasity Cooper, Communications Strategist
“The first election I participated in was a local one, but I cast my first (absentee) ballot in the 2008 presidential election and it was something I’ll never forget. I was so proud to send it off to my home state of IL (even though Uncle Barry had it on lock) and exercise a right that so many people before me had worked so hard for.”
Charell Strong, Marketing and Media
“My first time voting was for the 2008 presidential election. My friends and I were so excited that we woke up super early, around 5am, to walk to our voting location before it got too crazy and class begun. I remember taking a full minute to look at Obama’s name, filling it in slowly so I could savor the moment.
It meant so much (I’ve always had an understanding and appreciation for my right to vote) that my first time voting was for the first Black president. Also my grandfather, who had never voted before, voted in that election which made me even happier.”
Amanda DeRosa, Designer/Art Director
“My first time voting was freshman year of college and I skipped all of my classes that day to go home to Long Island to vote. It meant a lot to me to finally have a voice (albeit small) in something so large scale.”
Kristie Carter-George, Graphic Designer
“My first voting experience was voting for the 2008 election. Being in Washington D.C. at that time was quite interesting and I’m glad I was old enough to be there during it. I learned that I always want to live in walking distance to a voting location. I like being first in line and getting it done super early.”
Tiffany Patterson, Writer and Educator
“I first voted in 2008 at my college campus, the University of NC at Greensboro. I voted in the democratic primary and then general election. I never thought the first time I would be eligible to vote I could do so for a Black man – it was surreal. Being surrounded by young people, the feelings of hope and change were so tangible on campus. I felt a responsibility to get informed and living on campus at the time, a lot information came to me.”
Tiffany Stewart, Digital Researcher/Freelance Journalist
“I just started my freshman year at St John’s University in Queens so I was sad I wouldn’t be able to go home (Eastern Long Island) to vote. However the Hampton Jitney was giving discounted rides to and from the city so I hopped on, went to the polls with my parents, and hopped back on.
On campus, they shared the election live on the big screen in our university center and the place literally erupted after Obama won! It was such a good feeling to be surrounded by so many people knowing that we were apart of history, and making history at the same time! The entire campus ran to the great lawn cheering, waving flags, and playing music. It was incredible.”
Lauren Bealore, Co-Founder, Y.A.B.
“As a woman who works in politics, I never saw myself in politics in any of my roles. I always knew that I would vote because a) it was my civil liberty and b) my parents were and still are strong voters in every election. My first experience voting for a presidential election was in 2008 for President Barack Obama.
Although I knew my vote would be important, as a 19 year old I didn’t know the power that the vote had on every level until I started interning for the Michigan Democratic Party while in college. Then I saw the importance of the non-presidential votes for local, state, and federal races. It really isn’t until you work on campaign and your job depends on every vote, or until you are on the ballot yourself, where you truly understand the meaning behind ‘every vote counts.’”
Why will you be voting in the next election? What are you or are you not looking forward to on November 8th? Join us on Friday, August 26th for #HerAgendaHerVote a twitter chat for Women’s Equality Day. With special guest Zerlina Maxwell, who is the Progressive Media Director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, we will discuss:
- What’s on your agenda this voting year
- The issues you care about and why you plan to support those issues by voting both locally and nationally
- The progress you feel has been made since women first got the right to vote to now
#youragenda: Women’s Equality Day Twitter Chat #HerAgendaHerVote https://t.co/vegxsfQUMf
— Her Agenda (@HerAgenda) August 23, 2016