By Donna A. Meltzer, CEO, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
“THE RIGHT [TO VOTE] IS OURS. HAVE IT, WE MUST. USE IT, WE WILL.” – ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, 1848
Women battled for 72 years to gain the right to vote. This year, August 26th marks 100 years since the 19th amendment was ratified granting women the right to vote. The fight for women’s suffrage lasted almost as long as the time we have now been able to vote. It feels almost surreal to me until I realize that equality has yet to become a reality in our society.
Discrimination exists today; people with disabilities are discriminated against, people of color are discriminated against, and yes, women are still discriminated against. We must continue the fight until we all have equal rights in the eyes of society and under the law.
Women make up roughly half of our population but make up less than one-quarter of our Congress. This is hardly a fair representation. We must support more women to run for public office – including women with disabilities or who are parents, siblings, or daughters of people with disabilities. We must show up at the polls so that our representatives reflect our citizens, our laws protect our people, and our voices are heard.
Here through One Vote Now, we are working to increase accessibility to the ballot box for people with disabilities because we know how important the right to vote is. It should be easy for every eligible person in the United States to cast their vote but today there are far too many barriers. That is why organizations like ours are helping people get registered, research their candidates and ballot measures, and make a plan for Election Day.
As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, there are a number of virtual events and activities that you can participate in by visiting the 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative website. But most importantly, honor the women who fought for our rights and cast your ballot this November.