New York, NY -- Today, August 26th, marks the adoption of the 19th Amendment, known as Women’s Equality Day.
While the 19th Amendment was a landmark achievement for many white women in this country, women of color, people with disabilities, formerly incarcerated people, and people who do not speak English as their primary language or not at all were routinely denied their right to vote – and many still face barriers to voting today.
More than a dozen states have enacted voter suppression laws since 2013. These laws take many forms — from requiring photo IDs to vote, cutting back on early voting, eliminating same-day registration, and more — but they are all part of the same concerted effort to strip Americans of their rights.
“While today marks a milestone in history for some women, the adoption of the 19th Amendment left out many who still continue to face barriers to accessing the ballot,” said Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “As we all know, a right is only meaningful if you have the ability to access it. And there are far too many women, particularly women of color, who continue to be silenced and excluded from the electoral process. We cannot celebrate women's suffrage without also acknowledging that all women are not freely able to exercise the right equally."
Planned Parenthood believes everyone should have the right to vote, no matter their political beliefs, and no matter their background. Planned Parenthood health centers see 2.5 million patients annually. Many of these people are young voters, people of color, immigrants, and people with low-incomes – those who face hurdles when trying to participate in the political process because of discriminatory voter suppression laws.
As the largest and most diverse electorate prepares to vote in this election, it’s our responsibility to help ensure that all voices are heard – and that communities that have been traditionally underrepresented, marginalized, and discriminated against have a mechanism to have their voices heard as well. Voting is one of the most powerful ways to accomplish this goal.