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It’s more important for moms to vote than ever this year—here’s why

On the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, moms are gearing up to vote in 2020.

19th amendment 100th anniversary

As parents, we're changing the world through our children, but we can also change the world for them by showing up to vote on election day.

It's intense to think that women in the United States have only had the privilege of voting for 100 years. That's how long it's been since the 19th Amendment gave (some of) America's women the right to participate in democracy. There was a time when it was illegal for women to vote in the United States, something President Trump recognized this week when he pardoned Susan B. Anthony on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

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What is the 19th Amendment?

The 19th is often referred to as the amendment that gave women the right to vote, but that's not actually true.

As Vox reports, the 19th Amendment didn't expressly grant the vote to women. It actually says: "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

The amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920, and in 1920 about 10 million women turned out to vote. However, not all women got the chance to. While the 19th made it unconstitutional to deny voters based on gender, plenty of states were still denying the vote to Black Americans by implementing tolls and tests designed to keep Black voters from exercising their right to vote. Nevertheless, Black women showed up at the polls in 1920 and persisted in the years since.

These days, voter turnout rates are higher for women than men, and women kept coming out. In every presidential election since 1980, more eligible women voters have come to the polls than men. In the last presidential election, 63.3% of women voted compared to 59.3% of men.

It's important to note that history often credits white women as the driving force behind women's participation in voting, erasing the vital role Black and Indigenous women played in advancing women's rights in the United States.

As the New York Times' editorial board recently pointed out, celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the 19th must not erase "African-American women like Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Mary Church Terrell, Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells—all of whom played heroic roles in the late 19th- and early 20th-century struggles for women's rights and universal human rights."

And as Stephanie Sellers, a Native American Studies scholar and English professor at Gettysburg College, recently explained to Vox, the white suffragettes were fighting for the same kind of respect and inclusion in society they saw in Indigenous nations, where women were leading.

"Americans often think settler women just pulled the concept of 'women's rights' out of the air without any cultural model when, in historic fact, Indigenous women in the East were living the very ideals these would-be suffragettes were philosophically fashioning and eventually legally fighting for," Sellers says.

Why it's so important for women to vote in 2020

Polls suggest women's votes could be crucial in this year's presidential election, and surveys show competency is now more important than political party affiliation to voting moms. In 2020, moms are looking to elect political leaders who are honest and surround themselves with competent advisors.

Women (and mothers in particular) have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout and, as The New York Times reports, many moms are planning to channel their rage at the polls in 2020.

In 2018, women and moms made history in the midterms. Time will tell if we make history again in 2020.

Here's how to check if you are registered to vote (and what to do if you're not)

If you've moved or changed your name recently, it's really important to check if you're registered to vote. And even if you haven't changed anything, you should still check.

The deadlines to register to vote vary by state. In some places, you can register right up until election day, but in many states, the deadlines are much sooner. (If you're in North Dakota, you don't need to register to vote—it's the one state that doesn't require it.)

You can check to see if you're registered using this tool from Vote.org.

If you're not registered, you can register online in most states (and DC) You can even do it right here, right now.

[A version of this post was originally published October 2, 2018. It has been updated.]

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