In February, the Democratic National Committee launched their Voter Expansion Project, a campaign focused on expanding access to voting rights as Republicans continue to restrict them. Former President Bill Clinton launched the campaign with a video focused on why voting rights matter, which can be found below the jump.
On Monday, Leticia Van de Putte joined Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Ohio State Senator Nina Turner on a conference call to discuss the intersection of voting rights and gender. As Women's History Month wraps up, these three women pointed out the importance of women's access to this fundamental right to engagement in our democracy, and the devastating effects Republicans' legislative agenda have had on women's right to vote.
More on women and the Voter Expansion Project, and Bill Clinton's video on why voting rights matter, below the jump.The DNC describes the goal of the Voter Expansion Project as, “to ensure that every eligible voter can register, that every registered voter can vote, and that every vote is accurately counted.” As Clinton points out in the video, found below, and as the women reaffirmed in the conference call, women experience unique issues with regards to the restrictive legislation being pushed by the GOP. As even Wendy Davis discovered when she went to cast her ballot in October, the requirements regarding names on voter registration and the newly required I.D. can cause many issues – especially for women who have changed their name due to marriage or divorce.
The conference call focused on ways that women specifically are impacted by issues related to voting access. As Rawlings-Blake pointed out, even voting hours matter. For single mothers who are trying to make it to the polls, areas that have short or varying hours during early voting can cause greater difficulties for women trying to juggle work and childcare.
Though the most widely publicized issue faced currently by women voters is the extra hurdle of dealing with name changes on voter registrations and identification documents, those on the conference call made a point to say that expanding access to voting for all is integral for empowering women as voters. In a time when women are more likely than ever to have a full time job but are still doing the majority of the carework in and out of the home, an effort to make it easier for voters to register and make it to the polls – and to clear up any perceived or potential hurdles at the ballot box – will have a positive impact on women voters.
Rawlings-Blake made it clear that this is not only an issue that impacts women, saying, “Voting rights is not only a minority issue or a regional issue,” and that laws that restrict voting access “touch every household in our country.” Though it is certainly true that voting rights are important for everyone, it is equally true that having a voice in the conversation and a seat at the table is key to addressing such pressing issues as reproductive health rights and equal pay. Only by electing those who can truly represent our interests can women expect to change the conversation that informs policy decisions at the national, state, and local levels. As Turner concluded, “There is only one great equalizer in this nation … and that is the ballot box. That is the place we are equal: one man, one woman, one vote.”