This Women’s Equality Day marks one hundred years of women’s ability to vote. While we have much to celebrate, we must also take time to recognize and understand how much work we have left to do as disparities in voting, especially for Black women and women of color, existed 100 years ago and still exist today. As a female-founded brand, it’s important to us to stop for a moment, honor the women who have stood up for us against opposition, reflect on the battles we’ve won in this country and recognize the fight we must continue.
Here’s a timeline of key dates and important names to know:
1848:Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted the first organized demand for American women’s suffrage at the Seneca Falls Convention. 1851:Sojourner Truth began a lecture tour that included a women’s rights conference in Akron, Ohio, where she delivered her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech. She challenged all ideas of racial and gender inferiority and inequality by presenting her own combined strength and female status. 1856:All white men can vote (not just land owners, finally). 1868:The 14th amendment is passed, which says formerly enslaved men are granted citizenship and can vote (but not if individual states can help it). 1869:Susan B. Anthony + Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Women’s Suffrage Association. 1870:15th amendment is passed, making it illegal to deny citizens (men) the right to vote based on race (loopholes, like literacy tests, were found almost immediately preventing most Black men from voting; it took almost a century for this amendment to be fully realized). 1878:Susan B. Anthony drafted the first version of the 19th amendment. 1896:Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells, Frances Harper and Harriet Tubman found the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs to address the intersectional space between civil rights and women’s suffrage. 1920:19th amendment passed, (white) women can vote. 1935:Mary McLeod Bethune became a special advisor to President Roosevelt on minority affairs and started her own organization dedicated to Black women’s rights. 1965:Voting Rights Act passed (a grassroots movement: marches + protests work!), the act prohibits racial discrimination when voting and is considered the most effective piece of civil rights legislation ever passed.
While we have made great strides, there is still more work to do. Black women and women of color still face disparities and inequalities with voting accessibility and disenfranchisement laws, as well as gaps in wages, decision-making power, opportunity and more. We have to close these gaps and stand tall for what we believe in. Voting is a crucial step in ensuring our voices are heard.
Let's Make this Year Count
In 2016, the US ranked 26th out of 32 developed countries for its percentage of eligible voters who actually voted, with only a 61% turnout rate. Despite the pandemic making in-person voting a less viable option this year for many, we must do better. Whether voting by mail or in person, here are some helpful tips to ensure our voices are heard this November.
If you’re mailing in your ballot:
While there is some concern with the USPS’ capacity to process every ballot (despite the USPS saying otherwise) for those looking to mail in their ballot, there are proactive measures we all can take to lessen this concern.
- Check for designated ballot drop-off locations.
- See if you can deliver your ballot directly to your local election officials.
- Send your ballots as early as possible.
- If all else fails, bring your mail-in ballot to your polling spot on Election Day, and they’ll direct you to a provisional ballot, or the most secure way to mail it in.
- If your ballot hasn't arrived and the mail-in deadline is approaching (don’t let it get closer than a week before Election Day), check with local officials. In many states, you can request a replacement ballot or vote early in person.
If you’re voting in person:
- Consider voting early (available in 40 states! Check your state’s laws here). Because voting early spreads people across a longer period of time, it’s an effective way to avoid crowds and long lines on Election Day.
- Try to avoid peak hours on Election Day. While you may face longer lines due to social distancing and in some cases reduced pulling locations, by showing up to vote during off-peak times (like the middle of the day) you can help decrease your exposure to larger crowds.
- And of course, wear your mask, keep your distance from others and use hand sanitizer often. After you vote, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands.
Before You Vote
In order to vote, you must have
The next step is to do your research. Make sure you’re informed on the candidates, what they stand for and how these candidates match up with your beliefs, needs and values. Unlike a school exam, you know what will be on the test beforehand (the candidates running) and you can (and should) write down all the answers (who you want to vote for) before you set foot in a polling place or send that ballot off in the mail. Great places to start your research are websites like I Side With or Ballot Ready –they help you work through the candidates and decide whose voice you’re comfortable with representing yours.
Finally, make sure you’re registered! You can check your registration status here. If you know you’re not, click here to register. You can also sign up for election reminders and updates here –by signing up, you no longer have to worry about remembering deadlines, even at the local level.
There is so much work to be done in this country and exercising our right to vote as women is one of the best ways to positively make an impact. Honest is a values-driven business and we understand the importance of educating our employees and providing resources for registration and voting on election day. Our employee resource group, WELL (Women Excelling in Leadership and Living) is recognizing this day through an internal register to vote campaign so that our entire team is prepared to vote in November. Democracy works best when we all participate. Together, we fight.
A special thanks to our sources: