Women Voters: The Crucial Component to a Winning Campaign

Political science teachers across the United States are struggling with this year’s election. It’s been full of surprises and ventures into uncharted territory. However, the importance of women voters has remained near the top of all candidates’ priorities. Politicians are paying attention to us now more than ever because they need our votes to win. This reality gives us the chance to urge their support on important issues like equal pay, campus safety, and access to birth control. Critical issues for women are becoming critical campaign issues for all candidates. Both childcare and equal pay were mentioned during the first presidential debate. Issues in our everyday lives are being discussed on a national stage.

Unfortunately, the rise in popularity of women’s issues isn’t equating to a rise in voter participation. Unmarried women, millennials, and people of color are identified as the Rising American Electorate, a title created by The Voter Participation Center. But although women make up half of the U.S. population, our voter turnout is not representative of our potential. The AAUW Action Fund has worked hard to use the strength of women to shape the campaign debate process and ensure that our elected officials are held accountable for creating policy that positively effects women and girls. That’s why we publish the AAUW Action Fund Congressional Voting Record, which covers the entire 114th Congress through August 2016 and details how your representatives and senators voted on issues important to women.

This tool provides everything you need to know about crucial issues and whether the candidates on your voting ballot showed support or opposition. The voter guide sets the stage by giving context on the climate of each congressional session. Then, it provides detailed vote descriptions for various pieces of legislation on education, reproductive rights, and equal pay. In the guide’s vote charts, we display how each elected official voted on each piece of key legislation for the entire 114th Congress. Based on their votes and co-sponsorship, we calculate a score indicating their overall support of AAUW’s priorities. Legislators now know that women across the country are paying attention to their votes. This information will prepare us to make our opinions known at the voting booth.

After you’ve used the voter guide to inform yourself, spread the word! Use it in promoting get-out-the-vote efforts, town halls, candidate debates, and on campuses nationwide. We also publish head-to-head voter guides for key house, senate, gubernatorial, and presidential races. Programs and resources like these help promote voter education and civic engagement in your communities.

Women make up half of our population, and issues affecting us are at the forefront of social policy and legislative change. When the U.S. Congress is only 19.4 percent female, these policy changes lack women’s voices. If we want to create real change, we must register to vote, cast our ballots, and show legislators that we are not to be overlooked. We need to ask candidates tough questions and use this information to be informed and engaged voters. When women vote, we change the conversation.

This blog post was adapted by Aditi Dinakar, AAUW public policy intern, from an original Huffington Post blog written by Lisa Maatz, AAUW vice president of government relations and advocacy, entitled “Women Voters: The Key Element to Any Winning Election Formula.”

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Posted October 12, 2016