Get Out the Vote: Empower Yourself, Use Your Voice

Having the right to vote is not something that was just given to us. Through years and years of struggle, our ancestors fought and struggled so that we could have a voice today. At the start of this country, voting was limited to white male property owners, which in turn limited much of the population from exercising that right. Not until the 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870 did African Americans gain the right to vote, however this did not come without extreme discontent and later large restrictions on this populous. “However, in the decades that followed, many states, particularly in the South, used a range of barriers, such as poll taxes and literacy tests, to deliberately reduce voting among African American men.”[i]

With the 15th Amendment, however, women still did not have the right to vote. It was not until 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment that women could voice their position at the polls. Largely led by white women, who borrowed strategies from Indigenous and women of color, the suffragette movement lasted more than a decade and utilized protests, rallies, and other activist techniques to have women be heard.

As time progressed, states began to instill policies to disenfranchise people – silencing them and not allowing them to vote. “The struggle for equal voting rights came to a head in the 1960s as many states, particularly in the South, dug in on policies—such as literacy tests, poll taxes, English-language requirements, and more—aimed at suppressing the vote among people of color, immigrants and low-income populations.”[ii] By 1965, the Voting Rights Act had been passed in both chambers of Congress. “In addition to barring many of the policies and practices that states had been using to limit voting among African Americans and other targeted groups, the Voting Rights Act included provisions that required states and local jurisdictions with a historical pattern of suppressing voting rights based on race to submit changes in their election laws to the U.S. Justice Department for approval.”[iii]

This only covers a small piece of the history and struggle for all people to get the right to vote. We can clearly see the lengths to which many have gone to be able to have power and agency in their political system. Although things are by no means perfect today and there are constantly new ways that lawmakers are finding ways to disenfranchise people, this shows us that the fight isn’t over. We must look to the past to gain knowledge of how to fight and use that to make sure no one is ever silenced.

In the November midterm elections, it is important to vote and use the power given to us by countless people who came before us. Their struggles should not go in vain. There are many ways in which we can continue their fight today. These include:

  • Become a VDR (Voter Deputy Registrar) and register people to vote.

A Volunteer Deputy Registrar or VDR is a volunteer trained and appointed by the county voter registrar to register voters in the county where they are appointed. Duties of a VDR include providing applicants registration applications to voters, assisting applicants in completing their voter registration application, accepting and reviewing completed voter registration applications and giving applicants their receipts. Click here to learn more and register for trainings.

  • Encourage your friends to vote
  • Use your social platforms to push out the topics, candidates, and policies important to you.
  • Check to see if your registered to vote. Click here to check!
  • Register to vote!

Find a VDR and register. Remember to change you address if you’ve moved. The last day to register to vote in Texas is October 11, 2022 (either in person or postmarked by the date

Most important, create an action plan for voting. You can find one outlined by YWCA by clicking here. Develop a plan to vote, learn about what is on the ballot and the election process in your state. To see Texas’ election website click here. If you need helping to understand the ballot visit the League of Women Voters Austin website to see their nonpartisan voter guide. You can access it here.

The one thing to remember this November is to VOTE! Honor those who fought for you to have this power. #YWomenVote

[1] Carnegie Corporation of New York,

[1] Carnegie Corporation of New York,

[1]Carnegie Corporation of New York,

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