Thinking About Not Voting?

June 12, 2008

In the wake of Hillary Clinton suspending her presidential campaign on Saturday, everyone has been talking about where her supporters will go now. The Sunday morning newspapers, airwaves, and blogs were full of speculation from the “experts” and the perspectives of those who voted for her. Some said they would continue to support the Democratic Party and vote for Barack Obama. Others, many of whom cite Obama’s relative lack of experience, said they would cross party lines and vote for John McCain, even though Clinton and Obama have much more similar voting records and stances on issues. Koryne Horbal, the founder of the DFL Feminist Caucus in Minnesota, is causing quite a controversy by trying to create a write-in campaign for Clinton, even while acknowledging that it could cost the Democrats the White House in November. A blogger on Uncensored Feminista called this “irresponsible feminism.”

Most disheartening to me, however, are the Clinton supporters who say they’ll just stay home if she isn’t selected as the vice presidential candidate. It’s disturbing enough that our country has such a low percentage of citizens who exercise their right (and responsibility) to vote, but it’s even worse when women, whose foremothers fought so hard for the right to vote, don’t exercise that right. Over the last several elections, women have been seen as a powerful voting bloc, and politicians have taken note. Speeches tailored to soccer moms and security moms, Clinton’s infamous 3 a.m. phone call ads, and candidates seeking the endorsement of women’s groups are a few examples. Yet women lose this power when we don’t invoke it. June 4 was the 89th anniversary of the date Congress approved the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and sent it to the states for ratification. What would those who fought so hard to guarantee women’s suffrage think of those who refuse to vote this year? What do you think?

Critical issues — educational equity, retirement security, a fair and balanced judiciary, civil rights, workplace fairness, reproductive rights, healthcare reform, and equal pay — are at stake each time Americans go to the ballot box. To me, these issues are too important to even think about staying home on Election Day.

There are several things you can do to ensure that women’s voices and issues are heard on Election Day, Nov. 4, 2008. Encourage other women to vote by sending them AAUW’s voter e-card; if they are not registered to vote, encourage them to register. Read AAUW’s Woman-to-Woman Voter Turnout: A Manual for Community-Based Campaigns to Mobilize Women to Vote for tips on how you can help get more women to the polls. Finally, get informed by reading more about AAUW’s Voter Education Campaign.

By:   |   June 12, 2008


  1. stephanie Silvano says:

    You mention that many women have said that they would cross party lines to vote in favor of John McCain if Hillary were not on the Democratic ticket. I am here to tell you, I was going to cross party lines to vote in favor of Hillary. I am and always have been a Republican. Raised in a deeply religious and conservative household, Republican values had always been closer to my own than those of the Democratic party; however, Hillary represented something for me. I think it was partly my own conscience that told me I needed to vote for her, as she is woman, just as I am, and she embodies the very struggle that women have contended with for centuries…strike that, millenia. Also, she is not what I would call a radical, a left wing enthusiast, but instead a common sense leader who could and I believe would reach out across party lines and close the divide. Perhaps saddest of all, both my mother and my father, neither of which I can confidently say have ever been likely to vote democratic, were both in favor of Hillary. It was a sad day when the news was disseminated that she would not be continuing to campaign. I now find myself wondering what I will do; for me Obama is not a choice, so will I vote in favor of McCain and risk no change from our current situation, or will I refuse to vote and make my statement known through passive suggestion? Will either even matter?

  2. Karen Jackle says:

    Your vote – are you passive about what you do not advocate in AAUW?

    Recently, it was brought to my attention that there are members who are prolife and against 2 year grads as members and wanted to not renew as a result.

    1. The Every Member Survey is our vote on what AAUW prioritizes. Stay a member and vote through it! Encourage all members to vote within AAUW as well as in US elections.

    2. We are in favor of supporting our sisters in transition, many of whom do go back to school. How many women in your branch graduated in 4 years? We need to assist with the paygap by encouraging women to increase their ability to earn through furthering their education. Two year members are in, but we can reinforce the value of a 4 year education through sharing information on how it affects wages in addition to building a more well rounded education while respecting the life choices of our AAUW sisters.

    3. We need to show the value of being a mentor and of sharing our stories. Do a board meeting at the home of a frail member by setting up, bringing everything and letting the hostess just be included if there is a frail member who may not be on the board but board meetings are open to all members, right? We need to be inclusive in creative ways of all of our members although meetings are not mandatory to supporting our mission, are they?

    4. Branches have different flavors, some are more social & occasionally rally on projects; some advocate about certain things – much depends on who is willing to lead in different areas. We can respectfully make constructive suggestions even if we do not agree to participate. What we need to remember though is what we do accomplish and request constructive suggestions when comments come to us.

    Voting is the lifeblood of AAUW and of our nation. I will vote, but my decision will not be made until close to the election when I have enough information to feel I can decide.

    Karen Jackle
    California AAUW
    Director of Membership

  3. L. Carol Newnam says:

    Like many others, I. too, was disappointed that Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign and won’t be the nominee of the Democratic party. But I wouldn’t think of staying home or voting for McCain. Not only would either action mean a continuation of the current administration on the war and the economy but McCain didn’t support the Lily Ledbetter Pay Equity legislation and doesn’t support a woman’s right to choose. He has said he would appoint Supreme Court Justices of the Alito and Roberts persuasion which would surely mean overturning Roe vs. Wade. I will vote for Obama as Hillary Clinton has urged us to do. McCain simply doesn’t support the issues that are important to me.

  4. D hawkins says:

    When in doubt , sit it out – that’s what I plan to do. Neither of the current candidates are worth the time of day. I vote as a vote of confidence and not for the lesser of two evils as most Americans do nowadays. Why fill a position with someone who is going to get a paycheck for helping our country become more third world everyday and do more of the same nothing we’ve had for the last several years. I have voted in every single election I have been able to vote in since I was 18. I am now pushing 50 and do not plan to vote for the first time in my life and proud of it. Neither candidate stands for anything of value and panders to special interest groups only. When we finally get a candidate who wants to make the hard decisions and not try to please every single person out there (thereby not getting anything whatsoever done) I might consider voting for that person. Until then, neither of these candidates will ever get my vote.

  5. Sandy Kirkpatrick says:

    To D Hawkins–I think you don’t fully understand either the right or the responsibility of voting, which is most sad. I’m 50 years old, so it sounds as if we’re about the same age. Do you have no concept of the sacrifices and extraordinary efforts that were made to give women the RIGHT to vote in 1920? (The organized efforts began in 1848 at Seneca Falls, so we’re talking about YEARS of lobbying and some vicious reprisals against women activists in the 1910s).

    If you’re not familiar with the history, I urge you to watch “Iron Jawed Angels” (you can probably borrow the DVD from your local library). My grandmother was one of those young women marching on the streets of NYC to demand the right to have a voice in our government.

    It’s a dangerous thing to forget our history. And it’s even more dangerous to cede your right to vote.

    Don’t like the choices? Then start writing the candidate whose positions seem closest to your own and express what you’re looking for in a candidate.

    The surest way to be disappointed is to stay silent and let others do the voting for you. But how could anyone possibly be “proud” of choosing not to vote? It’s not just irresponsible — it’s a slap in the face to our foremothers who worked so hard to give us this right.

    I’m hugely disappointed that Hillary won’t be a candidate, but in the end I’ll vote for the candidate who I feel would be the best president, both in terms of leadership qualities and stands on issues that matter to me. I don’t think I’ve EVER voted for a presidential candidate who felt like the “perfect” candidate. They all have strengths and weaknesses. But that’s life. The point is to stay informed, vote, and speak out.

    I agree with the author of this blog posting. To not vote is an insult to the brave and brilliant women who sacrificed and worked so tirelessly so we’d have a voice in our government.

  6. Vickie says:

    Sandy, Thank you for your blog. I was thinking of not voting, but you are absolutely right.

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