95 Years Ago Women Were Granted The Right To Vote, Today Women Of Color Are An Extremely Important Voting Bloc
Today marks 95 years since the certification of the 19th amendment, which granted women access to vote. In recognition of the historic achievement, President Obama declared today Women’s Equality Day. Women’s Equality Day recognizes all the ways that persisting gender inequality affects women today, from the gender wage gap to equal access to the ballot box.
A new analysis by the Center for American Progress looked at the influential role women—especially women of color—play in our elections. The 19th Amendment paved the way for women to vote, but until the Voting Rights Act was enacted in 1965, many women of color were still prohibited from voting. But in the relatively short amount of time since then, even amidst attacks on voting rights at the national and state level, women of color have become an incredibly influential voting bloc.
Here are a few facts to illustrate the growing influence of women of color:
- In the 1964 presidential election, 1 in 20 voters was a woman of color. By the 2012 election, more than one in six voters was a woman of color. This increase in the proportion of women of color voters is due to two factors in particular. First, the Voting Rights Act had an extremely significant impact on the ability of people of color to exercise the right to vote. Second, American women of color make up a much higher portion of the overall population today than they did in 1964. And this demographic shift is projected to continue: people of color are expected to make up about half of the eligible voter population in 2052.
- African American women in particular are especially engaged voters who are more likely to be registered than any other demographic group. In 1966, 60 percent of African American women were registered to vote compared with 71 percent of all other eligible voters. In 2012, the share of African American women registered to vote had jumped to 76 percent while the registered share of all other voters remained static. African American women’s share of all registered voters has grown to a point where they are now more likely to be registered than any other demographic group.
- More African American women reported voting in 2012 than any other racial, ethnic, or demographic group. In 1964, before the passage of the Voting Rights Act, 58 percent of African American women reported voting. In 2012 that number grew to 70 percent and women of color played a crucial role in the outcome of the presidential election.
BOTTOM LINE: Despite having faced significant hurdles throughout American history, women of color have become one of the most influential voting blocs and their power will only continue to grow. Equal access to the ballot is vital to the health of our democratic society. We need federal voting rights protections to help repair the damage done by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder, the case that gutted the Voting Rights Act, to ensure everyone is guaranteed equal access to the ballot box.
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