When Women Vote

black woman voting

By Shannon Gibney

Roughly 92 million Americans sat it out in the last election.

“We can’t afford that this election,” said Teresa Kumar, CEO of Voto Latino, during a press call hosted by the group Vote for Her on National Voter Registration Day.

In addition to Sisters Lead Sisters Vote and Kumar of Voto Latino, the Vote for Her panel included Cecile Richards, co-founder of Supermajority and former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. They discussed engaging women voters and what’s at stake in this election.

Sisters Lead Sisters Vote was formed two years ago “by a group of Black women leaders to be a voice for the interests of Black women and their families.” According to its website, the organization:

  • Supports issues and policies that affect the well-being of Black women, their families and communities of African descent and economically disadvantaged communities;

  • Provides education about issues, candidates for political office and the political process;

  • Promotes the civic engagement and participation and community leadership of women of African descent and the diaspora in America; and

  • Engages and organizes our community locally, nationally and online to stand for the issues, policies and people that impact the lives of Black women and their families.

“Sisters Lead was actually created specifically for a time like this,” said Holli Holliday, president of Sisters Lead Sisters Vote. “This election is about our lives … whether we live or die, and how we will live in this country.”

Holliday urged women to verify their registration, noting that Trump has used three primary strategies to win, including voter suppression and the ability to energize his base.

“The other has been to articulate and divide what we know to be the progressive coalition, by picking us off small groups at a time,” noted Holliday.

According to Kumar, Voto Latino has registered more than 307,000 individuals, 72 percent of whom are female, and overall, 79 percent are under the age of 33. The participation of women at the voting booth, and Latinas in particular, is going to make all the difference, noted Kumar.

“For the very first time, Latinos are going to be the second largest potential voting bloc, but our biggest challenge in the community is that half of us are not registered,” Kumar said. “When registered, 79 percent of us cast a vote, and Latinas lead the way every single time. Our goal at Voto Latino is to close that registration gap.”

Richards, co-founder of Supermajority, noted the impact of the pandemic on women. “Women are still today struggling to work, while all the time taking care of kids at home. Women have been the hardest hit by now record unemployment, as service workers struggling to make ends meet,” said Richards. “And yet, instead of taking care of any of these issues, instead of doing their jobs, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are rushing to push through a Supreme Court justice ... committed to overturning Roe v. Wade.”

Trump’s Supreme Court pick would add to the conservative majority, which could possibly overturn the Affordable Care Act. If that happened, health care coverage would end for 20 million Americans, Richards pointed out.

“That’s why we need change in Washington,” said Richards. “It’s why we need every single woman in this country to register and vote, because we are the majority. It’s why we need a woman in the executive branch.”

Speaking from her experience helping Barack Obama win the White House twice, Valerie Jarrett said women will have a huge impact on the outcome of this election.

“We know that turnout is going to affect the outcome,” said Jarrett. “And who better than a group of women to ensure that we have turnout all across this country — people of all races, all backgrounds, all ages? We want to lift up those voices to participate in our democracy.”