Published November 3, 2022
By Lib Campbell
Pew Research reports that since the 19th Amendment passed nearly 100 years ago, about half of the population says that giving women the right to vote has been “the most important milestone in the advancing of the position of women” in history. That becomes a very important fact for the 5.334 million women who live in North Carolina. Women comprise about 51percent of the state’s population. The number in Wake County is 51.3 percent. That’s a powerful voting force.
In 85 North Carolina counties, women outnumber men. Projected growth in North Carolina shows that by 2035 the gap will widen by 22 percent, to something like 94 men to 100 women. Women vote at higher rates than men according to the Rutgers Eagleton Institute. And since there are more women than there are men, it seems that women have great power at the voting booth.
That is very helpful information since North Carolina Women earn a median income of $36,400, an average of $8,600 less than men. Another shocking statistic from the North Carolina Council on the Status of Women is that 35 percent of women experience intimate partner violence and/or sexual violence. Equal pay, family leave, a woman’s right to choose, and protection from sexual violence would logically seem to be high on the list of what women might vote for.
In the week following the Dobbs decision that ended Roe v. Wade, more that 70 percent of the people registering to vote were women. North Carolina gained 30,000 new women voters since Dobbs. This could have big impacts in voting outcomes. Somewhere I hear a chorus singing, “Nobody puts Baby in the Corner.” Women have the power to make change, unless voting rights are taken away. Women voting in high numbers can change outcomes and improve the lives and futures of ourselves and our families going forward.
One of the joys of this voting season in the number of qualified women running for office in North Carolina. At the top of the ticket is Cherie Beasley, a former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Beasley is a stellar candidate all of us could be proud of having represent us. Law enforcement people support her, community college students who study trades, along with many other groups. She will represent all North Carolinians even-handedly. Look up and down the ballot. Vote for qualified women everywhere you can.
In 2020, when I first started researching women and voting, I had campaign buttons printed that simply said “Women Vote.” Someone told me it was too political. Given some of the actions we’ve recently seen, maybe it’s not political enough. I think it’s encouragement for women to find their voice and vote for the issues that matter to them. I know we are not a monolith, but I do think we hold family values, character, fairness and inclusiveness as important issues. We see the harm done when families struggle, our children are mis-treated, and our sisters are maligned.
Women can make the difference in elections if we just vote. All of us. We have numbers “too big to ignore.” And all the angry white men who might like to keep us submissive and silent can just get over it. Women need to boost themselves up and have confidence that their vote makes a real difference.
County governments have websites with lists of polling places. Find your closest one and if you need a ride, get it. We voted early last week. Nothing at all was threating or off-putting. The supervisors were helpful and cheerful. It was a good experience. I was so enthusiastic in voting for women, I voted for two when the ballot only asked for one to be chosen. The Site Supervisor wrote SPOILED on the ballot and issued me another.
As a little girl, I remember going to the Ayden Fire Department with my parents on Election Day. Curtained voting booths. Paper ballots and a little pencil. I thought it was a grand process. I still do.
With all the awful rhetoric being slung around, be undaunted as you claim your ballot and fill out your little circles up and down the ballot. Check to see if your ballot has two sides. Get a little sticker and wear it proudly. I voted. Women, we all need to vote. In doing so, we become part of the solution.