Her exquisitely lacquered red nails clasp the lever confidently, six fashion-statement gold bangles punctuating her slender wrist. Though you can't see the rest of her, if you read women's fashion magazines, you might guess this is the smart, sophisticated Marie Claire woman.
There's a good reason why the word "voting" is clearly painted under the lever, with an arrow pointing to it. This woman might well be one of the 35 million eligible women who didn't vote in the 2004 presidential election. And single women, we are told by the article, are less likely to vote than their married counterparts.
Marie Claire's "Election '08" articles, of which this is the start, are joined with a larger nonpartisan effort called "Every Woman Counts" that is spearheaded by Lifetime TV and two other Hearst magazines -- CosmoGirl! and Redbook -- plus a coalition of dozens of other organizations working to elevate the women's vote in 2008, and to increase women's participation in the political process in general. (Disclosure, I've signed on to the campaign as an individual.)
The whole political activist world seems to know, even if the word still hasn't permeated the consciousness of those 35 million eligible-but-not-voting women, that women are the key to the outcome of the 2008 elections, not just at the presidential level but all up and down the ticket. Especially telling is that women in the typically "red" Midwestern states are more likely to vote than women in the typically "blue" states. One must wonder whether this translates to higher voting rates for conservative women than for centrist, progressive and liberal women.
As the crawl at bottom of one Marie Claire pages tells us without needing to explain its application to 2008: "If more single women had voted in the swing states in 2000, Al Gore would have won the election."
And the rest, as they say, would have been a very different history for our country.