The Right to Vote

I got a sticker! 😀

I voted.

It’s still a thrill, 32 years after I first registered to vote in the presidential election between encumbent Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.  (Yeah, I know, I’m old).

I’ve voted in nearly every election since then – not just the presidential ones – in the three different states in which I’ve lived.  Whether it was a close race for a high-stakes office, or Congressional/Senatorial/ state legislative offices, or local bread-and-butter bond referenda, or school board members…it doesn’t matter.  It’s the same feeling.  I look around at the folks in line with me, all of us fulfilling our civic responsibility, and I feel proud.  Proud of us, proud of my country.  I also feel blessed, because I’m a woman, and it wasn’t always this way.

1913 image, via (cc)

Until 1920, my great-grandmother, and the women before her, had no say in who our elected officials would be.  These officials were men responsible for the laws, policies, and fiscal stability of our country; they could declare war and make treaties, all without having to answer to half the population they served.

19th Amendment, image via (cc)

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, extending the franchise to women, was passed on August 26, 1920.  In some states, women already had had the right to vote in their local elections, but it was a hotly debated issue.  It took many decades and a lot of committed people to make this happen.  Both men and women.

The image at right is too tiny to see the actual words, so here’s the key sentence:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.


You know something interesting about the passage of the 19th Amendment?  It came down to one man.  Once the Amendment passed the House and Senate, the states then had to ratify it.  Thirty-six states were needed in order for the amendment to be ratified.  So thirty-five states passed it, and only one more was needed.  Everybody with a stake in the amendment, whether pro or con, flocked to Nashville, Tennessee.  And it wasn’t for the Grand Ole Opry.

Harry Burn, 24 years old and a Tennessee state legislator, had voted against women’s suffrage in the past.  His mother urged him this time, however, to vote for women’s voting rights.  The vote in the Tennessee legislature was almost dead even.  When Mr. Burn saw that voting against the amendment would tie the vote 48 to 48, he cast his ballot for the amendment. (Another version of the story says he broke the 48 to 48 tie, so I’m not exactly sure which it is).

There was a little legislative arm-twisting and procedural delays attempted by the anti-suffrage folks right after that, but within a week, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify to 19th Amendment, granting American women the right to vote.  Aren’t you glad Mr. Burn listened to his mother?

Read more about it here and here.

Thank you for voting today!  If you aren’t from the United States, or aren’t eligible to vote here, I still want to thank you for your support of our elective process.  It’s by no means perfect, and we’ll all be glad when this one is over, but it’s a right that we all cherish.

Until next time,


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12 thoughts on “The Right to Vote”

  1. Amy KennedyAmy Kennedy

    I literally was so proud today. There I was waiting patiently with everyone else — laughter and joking making the time pleasurable. Always love your history “lessons”

  2. Emma BurcartEmma Burcart

    You are right. This is something we need to remember. It was a pain in the butt to wait outside in the cold, but I am glad to have the right to vote. I think about the women in Saudi Arabia who staged a protest by driving in an effort to gain the right to drive and I realize how lucky I am to live in the US. And as soon as we get the Fair Pay Act passed, things will be so much better for us. Thanks for reminding us of our history.

  3. Julie GloverJulie Glover

    Cheers to Mrs. Burn! I am also ever aware that my great-grandmother did not have the right to vote. There are still many countries where women cannot vote. Regardless of the outcome of any election, I always feel proud to cast my ballot along with other civic-minded Americans.

    Great post, Kathy!

  4. Renee Schuls-JacobsonRenee Schuls-Jacobson

    I’m amazed that we STILL do not have an Equal Rights Ammendment. It positively blows my mind. Every election.

    And yet.

    I keep voting. And I am proud to be an American. Always.

  5. Jane SadekJane Sadek

    Back in my real job days, I’d make my staff go vote. I’d tell ’em I didn’t care who they voted for, only that they voted. Even though I haven’t had a staff for over a decade, I still get phone calls and emails from some of them telling me that they went to vote. Makes me just a wee bit proud.

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