Nadir is a 29-year-old single mother of three, who runs a home-based business and is a serious Broncos fan. KeeAnn is a 45-year-old part-time call center staffer who recently started college studies. Between school, work and caring for her aging father, she doesn’t have time for hobbies unless they involve her pet Yorkies, Luke and Laura.
Other than the fact that they both live in Colorado Springs, the two don’t have much in common – except their beliefs about women and the political process. KeeAnn recently visited the Early Voting Center at a Colorado Springs mall because she feared she might get so busy that she’d forget to cast her vote. Nadir has her ballot in a spot on the dining table reserved for important papers. She’s made a promise to her children that Mommy won’t forget to get her ballot in the mail well before November 2.
If women vote, we can change our own realities, change life for our families, and change this country. Still, some wonder if we have the collective will to get to the polls in large enough numbers this time.
Women are typically more likely than men to register and to cast votes and that has made a difference in many elections. But this year, in these midterm elections, polling suggests that too many women are unenthusiastic. Unmarried women, particularly, who turned out in record numbers in 2008, report they’re less likely to vote in November.
But if women don’t vote, we’ll all lose.
In the coming months, Congress is poised to make decisions on an array of critical issues, including unemployment, equal pay, health care, and family economic security. In Colorado, on Election Day, voters will decide important questions concerning state revenue and financing, reproductive health, and health care reform.
Women can’t afford to sit this one out.
One group of 2010 ballot measures where women’s voices must be heard is Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101. On the face of things, it seems that these initiatives promise to put extra money in voters’ pockets, reducing fees on cars and trucks and cutting income taxes by as much as 25 percent. But it’s all too good to be true.
In reality, Amendment 60 would cut money for schools by 50 percent, cut thousands of teaching jobs, increase class sizes and cut after-school programs. Amendment 61 would wipe out construction jobs and halt work on vital community projects like water treatment plants and school construction. And Proposition 101 would eliminate funding for schools and safe communities. That’s why they’re called the Ugly Three.
Two more harmful and deceitful initiatives on the 2010 Colorado ballot are Amendments 62 and 63; these would limit a woman’s ability to make choices about her own reproductive health and dramatically increase health care costs in Colorado.
Women – who have a vested interest in quality public schools, safe roads, clean public parks, affordable higher education, low health care costs and choice in reproductive health – must protect our families and protect our communities. We must let our voices be heard on all 5 of these ballot initiatives.
The economy is still fighting to rebound from the worst crisis since the Great Depression, and women and our families – already vulnerable – are at greatest risk.
The decisions being made in this election are important to us; important in the short-term and important in the long-term. Voting for candidates who support our values and letting our voices be heard on this year’s ballot measures will help us keep our families going and keep our state and nation strong.
That’s why women like Nadir must ensure that their ballots get off the dining room table and into the ballot box. We must show up at the polls for early voting or show up on Election Day. We must vote as if our families’ very lives depend upon it because, indeed, they do.
Erin Bennett is Colorado Director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, a diverse, multi-racial membership organization that strengthens women’s ability to win economic justice. EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an online-only column and has not been edited.