Voting is Powerful

Voting is Powerful

Did you know that women – particularly single and unmarried women – have become the most powerful voting block for the upcoming Presidential election?  Termed part of the “Rising American Electorate” – unmarried women, people of color, and millennials – single women have the power to drive the political agenda today.  There are a number of reasons for this, as were outlined by an article in New York magazine:

  1. Only 1 of 5 women under the age of 29 are married, creating a significant difference in voter demographics…in fact, single women in their 20s now outnumber married women in their 20s.
  2. Presidential candidates must now give attention to issues of concern to single women: pay equity, paid family leave, raising minimum wage, and free education are just a few.
  3. The population of single women is increasing every year, and make up at least 25% of the nation’s voters.
  4. Men still benefit from marriage more than women do – particularly career-wise.  Men with children typically see a 6% increase in salary, while women take a 4% decrease for every child they have, according to The New York Times.

Since 2009, the number of women who are unmarried in this country have outnumbered the number who are married.  This social movement has come from a shift in women’s view on marriage and the belief that it’s okay not to be married.

These facts are key for all women, regardless of marital status.  And they underscore the importance of the female vote, which is a right women won less than a century ago.  Susan B. Anthony would roll over in her grave if she knew that many women – particularly unmarried women – throw this power away.  It was Anthony who, on Election Day in 1872, stepped up to vote for the President of the United States and was arrested, tried, and found guilty.  Fined $100, she refused to pay, as well as refusing to apologize for exercising a right she believed all people should have.

Nearly 40% of unmarried women in this country are not registered to vote.  Today, over 40% of Iowans are not registered to vote, and of registered women voters, only 53% reported voting in the 2014 general election.  All the more important to get out the vote, according to New York magazine:

The independent woman, both high earning and low earning, looks into her future and sees decades, or even a lifetime, lived outside marriage, in which she will be responsible for both earning wages and doing her own domestic labor. This is the new social compact that she requires:

  • stronger equal-pay protections that guarantee women’s labor will not be discounted because of leftover assumptions that they are likely to be supported by husbands;
  • a higher federally mandated minimum wage, which would help to alleviate the burdens of poverty on America’s hardest and least-well-remunerated workers;
  • a national health-care system that covers reproductive intervention, so that those who want to terminate pregnancies or have babies on their own or wait until they are older to do so are able to avail themselves of the best medical technologies;
  • more affordable housing for single people, perhaps subsidized and with attendant tax breaks for single dwellers who choose to live in smaller, environmentally friendly spaces;
  • criminal-justice reforms that address and correct the injustices of our contemporary carceral* state;
  • government-subsidized day-care programs;
  • federally mandated paid family leave for both women and men who have new children or who need to take time off to care for ailing family members;
  • universal paid-sick-day compensation, regardless of gender, circumstance, or profession;
  • increases rather than continual decreases in welfare benefits; and
  • reduced college costs and quality early-education programs.

Come to think of it, these policies would benefit lots of people who are not single women as well.

(*carceral refers to jail or prison)

Whatever our political views, it’s critical that we recognize and encourage others to add their voice to the political and public policy arena by voting.  We can’t change society if we don’t get involved in the process.  Please practice your right to vote!