Today, Equality Day, marks the 90th anniversary of the certification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. A lot has changed in ninety years, but one fact remains more salient than most: women are a political force to be reckoned with in this country.
This is particularly true of unmarried women -- single, divorced, widowed or separated -- who make up one of the fastest growing demographics in the country and now comprise 25 percent of the eligible voting population -- that's almost 51 million women. While unmarried women turned out in record numbers in 2008, they are still underrepresented and under-registered. In 2008, of the nearly 51 million unmarried women who were eligible to register to vote, only 35 million did register. That means 16 million women who could have voted did not even register.
And those numbers are not expected to improve for the 2010 elections. In the past, on average only 40% of unmarried women voted in midterm elections, compared to almost 60% in the 2008 presidential election -- this means that come November, more than 30 million unmarried women who could be voting might not.
90 years ago, women from all walks of life fought hard to give a voice to the voiceless and ensure that there was room for more views at the political table. Today, we need to fight to make sure everyone who has a voice is using it and that those who can pull up a chair to that table are doing so. The stakes are too high to let millions of American women stay silent and sit this election out.
Women paid dearly for the right to vote. Alice Paul was beaten, imprisoned and brutally force-fed by her jailers for daring to demand American women should have the vote. But the courage and persistence of Paul and her fellow suffragettes paid off ninety years ago today with the certification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women their political equality. Today, even though women turnout at equal or great numbers than men on election day, more than one in four American women is still not registered to vote. If you're one of them, thank Alice Paul today by visiting Women's Voices. Women's Vote website and registering to vote.
If you are already registered, talk to five women you know about registering to vote. It's quick, it's free and it's important.
Follow Page Gardner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@VoterCenter