Chicken nuggets or noodles? Playground or pool? Dinosaur Train or Dora? Voting is big at my house these days. Whether its decisions big or small, my family is voting under the direction of my soon-to-be kindergartner.
He learned all about voting at preschool from a great teacher who gave her students a voice in classroom decisions from what to study next to how to spend their hard earned lemonade stand money. Along the way, she instilled in him a love of voting for which I’m grateful. And I can’t blame him. There’s something truly empowering about feeling like your voice is being heard and that your opinion matters. That’s true whether you’re 5, 35, or 95.
This month I’m going to be telling him a special story about some brave women who worked very hard so his grandmothers, his mama, and someday his sister can share the right to vote. Ninety years ago Thursday, on Aug. 26, 1920, the 19th amendment went into effect, giving American women the right to vote. All these years later their efforts still inspire me, and I’m grateful. We’ve made tremendous gains since then, but there’s still much we can do to make sure our voices are heard!
Women and mothers have a great deal at stake in our current political system. From affordable childcare to pay equity, paid sick days to quality education, women and our families are impacted every day in very personal ways by the decisions made in Raleigh and in Washington.
Just like in my son’s preschool class, voting is the first step to making our voices heard. Today, women make up more than half of registered voters. In North Carolina, 86 percent of women are registered (compared to 75 percent of men), but only 55 percent of us make it to the polls. We can do better!
In North Carolina, lawmakers have tried to provide us with options to help make voting fit into our busy lives. Early voting sites are available across the state to make sure we have the opportunity to vote even when our schedules are too busy on Election Day. And North Carolina’s Same Day Registration law allows people who miss the 25 days before the election registration deadline to register and vote during the early voting period.
As our legislators head back to their districts, their thoughts are turning to how to get your vote. With the highest number of contested seats in recent years, candidates will be paying even more attention this fall to what matters to the voters in their district. Take this opportunity to let them know what matters to you! Organizations like MomsRising can help by providing you with facts and information on the issues important to you.
As the NC election season heats up, you can help remind all the candidates that kids can’t vote, but moms do!
Beth is the Durham mom of two and active in the North Carolina chapter of MomsRising.