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Women Expected To Play Major Role In Presidential Race

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Education, the economy and health insurance are among the issues that may drive women to the polls for the presidential election. It was not like that in 2000 when 22 million unmarried women did not vote.

The political parties are paying more attention to women during this election. With a close presidential race, Republicans and Democrats say tapping into single women in North Carolina and across the country could be crucial.

"John Kerry and John Edwards are talking about the issues important to single women. They are talking about health-care costs and health insurance," said Emily Meeker of Democrat Victory 2004. "For single women, that's a big issue. We are responsible for our own healthcare."

The latest figures show Kerry may have an advantage with young females. According to a Gallup Poll, 60 percent of unmarried women support Kerry. However, among married women, 54 percent support Bush.

"I think it's because married women tend to have families and the president is out there making decisions that affect families," said Rachel Sunbarger, of N.C. Bush/Cheney.

Since each party has the edge with a different set of women, the key for both sides is getting them to the polls.

North Carolina Democrats believe the female vote is so important in the Presidential race, they have got an entire committee working to get women to the polls. The Bush campaign has launched a "W Stands for Women" Web site, focused on women's issues.

North Carolina was anything but quick to catch on to a woman's right to vote. In 1917, the General Assembly rejected bills to give women the right to vote in cities and in presidential elections. Three years later, the legislature failed to support the federal legislation.

Finally, in 1971 in what amounted to a meaningless vote, North Carolina's General Assembly officially ratified the 19th amendment. North Carolina was the second-to-last state to do so. Mississippi had a similar vote in 1984.


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