What’s Your Plan?
I live in a county in a state where early voting opened October 17th in one location, and in multiple locations after Halloween. So I took advantage of casting my ballot the first day. I stood in a longish line with a diverse group of eligible adults, reflecting the changing racial and age demographics of my Southern metro area.
As soon as I finished voting, got my “I Voted” sticker, turned out of the parking lot of the building where we usually come to register cars in person, pay fines, or dispute water bills — I felt relieved. I had followed this presidential election nonstop for over a year, riveted to cable news political shows every evening and many Sunday mornings when I wasn’t preaching. I was experiencing much the same responses as when I watch hurricane and other natural disaster coverage nonstop over a period of days. I was overwrought, exhausted.
So I went (mostly) cold turkey on the election. I began streaming West Wing episodes as a television antidote for the current American state of affairs, along with the pilot for a new Amazon series called Good Girls Revolt, a retro look at some of the pioneering women in newsrooms.
And then I began to hear about efforts to suppress voting, deliberate and perhaps not, including a local story about a mother of three who was told to leave because her toddler was having a meltdown. I wondered if there were still ways I could ensure that she and others could weigh in. Because there is much at stake in this year’s races and ballot initiatives, including for women in particular.
Affordable and comprehensive health care is at stake, reproductive and general. Access to safe, legal abortion and to birth control is at stake. Equal wages are at stake. Workplace non-discrimination and prohibition of sexual harassment are at stake. The integrity of immigrant and refugee families is at stake, with women and children at risk for involuntary separation. Safe and sensible gun control is at stake — an estimated 46 percent fewer women will be shot by an intimate partner if background checks are strengthened and it becomes harder to buy a handgun.
So many reasons to vote, and zero reason to deny this right to the women of this country.
There is so much potential power in voter turnout by women. According to the Center for American Women in Politics (2011), in every presidential election since 1980 the proportion of eligible female voters who voted exceeded the proportion of eligible male adults who voted. Women have cast between four and seven million more votes than men in recent elections.
So I am exploring a way to offer child care to the mothers and grandmothers and other caregivers in my town who need time without distraction or harassment to go to the polls. I am considering showing up Tuesday Nov. 8th to be a calming clergy presence. And I have posted on my personal Facebook page a simple but powerful question: What is your plan for voting?
Dozens of my FB friends have responded by letting me know they have already voted early, or by absentee ballot, or have a definite time they will go to vote on Election Day. We are holding each other accountable and, if we need help, asking for what we need to make it happen.
What is your plan?