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Get Out and Vote – Please

By Deanna Dammer Kimbrough Posted on October 1, 2020

Do you have memories that start, “The first time I ever…”?

We may remember our first car, first job, first home.  But do we remember exact dates? 

Some of my memorable firsts include riding on a train with Grandpa, doing a back flip on a trampoline, going to a Twins baseball game with my Mom and Dad, taking a bus into downtown Minneapolis with my girlfriend, and my first commercial airplane flight.  Without remember exact dates, I can still close my eyes and see each event. 

Before I Get Too Nostalgic…

There are many more remembrances, but the one that is most relevant to me this year revolves around Tuesday, November 5, 1968.  It was my first presidential election. At the time, the voting (and drinking) age was 21.  You do the math.  I was so excited about voting, while several of my friends were more interested in being able to drink (legally). 

As I recall, no one I voted for won!  But I didn’t give up, and over my lifetime I have only missed going to the polls twice, both times due to illness and I was so disappointed. 

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

A near miss occurred one year when I was watching the television election updates and it seemed useless to go vote because my chosen Presidential candidate was behind.  Then someone in my apartment complex started rallying folks to take them to the polls!  I joined in, and even though that favored candidate lost, I felt that I had continued to exercise my Constitutional right and my patriotic duty.  That is how I feel to this day. 

My vote counts – and so does yours!

Why We Should Vote

As stated above, voting is an American right and, in my opinion, a patriotic duty.  It gives each citizen a chance to be heard.  It also sets a good example for the younger generations to embrace voting.  We don’t want our youth to ever, ever, ever give up the American right to vote for the political candidate or party we feel will best lead us – locally – regionally – statewide – or nationwide – in the near future.                                   

Another Reason to Vote: The Centennial of the Women’s Right to Vote

While visiting Dayton, Ohio earlier this year, I bought “The Day the Women Got the Vote” by George Sullivan.  Although previously educated about the Women’s Suffrage Movement, but there was a lot more information about the historic event that book.

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, giving all women the right to vote, was ratified on August 18, 1920. 

It was a long, often contentious journey to November 2, 1920.

Women learn to vote at NCR in Dayton on Oct. 27, 1920. NCR ARCHIVES AT DAYTON HISTORY

The long fight for equality at the voting booth was actually “triggered” in 1840, when American women delegates to the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, England were “prohibited from attending convention sessions.” 

Abolitionists Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton met while attending the convention.  What happened there inspired them to form the first Women’s Rights Convention, which was held at Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York in July 1848. This event attracted close to 200 women and men!  The journey to America’s 19th Constitutional Amendment was a long and often frightening one.

The African American Right to Vote did not include Women

Note that the 15th Amendment of 1870 stated the right to vote could not be denied in any State “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”  This was specifically enacted to establish the rights of freed slaves to vote but applied only to men. 

Black and white voters register to vote in Tallahassee. 1960s. Image courtesy of Florida Archives.

It took the Civil Rights Act to Enforce African Americans’ Right to Vote

Additionally, although the right to vote was given to all men in 1870, it took until the mid-1960s for enactment to be enforced in some states. The Civil Rights Act solidified the right of ALL AMERICANS to vote.

Photograph of Florida’s then Governor, LeRoy Collins, talking with civil rights marchers (L-R) John Lewis, Andrew Young, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, and Ralph Abernathy at Selma, Alabama, in March 1965. Image courtesy of Florida State Archives.

Seeing the Pattern

Some U.S. Territories granted suffrage (the right to vote) to women much earlier than 1920: Wyoming (1869), Utah (1870), Alaska (1913).  There were even several States that had given voting rights to women before the 19th Amendment was ratified:  Kentucky (1839, but only to widows with children), Washington state (1910), Arizona, Kansas, Oregon (1912), Illinois (1913), Montana and Nevada (1914), North Dakota, Ohio, Indiana, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Michigan, New York (1917). 

In fact, Wyoming was admitted to the Union in 1889, technically making it the first state to grant women the right to vote.

The cover of the Official Program for the Woman Suffrage Procession of 1913. Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Have you ever wondered why the vote was granted so much earlier in the Territories and in some States? That would be a deep research project and we would love any readers to share their knowledge in the comments.                       

May Mann Jennings, a Nature Coast Suffragette, and More

May Mann Jennings was born in 1872. The Jennings were married in 1891 and lived in Brooksville before moving to the Governor’s mansion in 1901.

May Mann Jennings was a leader in the Suffrage Movement. She was born in New Jersey, but moved to Crystal River with her parents at age 2. Her father was a State Senator and she was the First Lady of Florida from 1901-1905.

By 1912, Mrs. Jennings had become active in civic work and politics. After she was widowed in 1920, she headed the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs and was co-founder of the Florida League of Women Voters. She campaigned for women’s suffrage, prohibition, better treatment of children and prisoners, education funding, historic preservation, Seminole Indian reservations, fence laws, and highway beautification.

The 1,800-acre Royal Palm Hammock State Park, which she helped create, was the eastern entrance to the current 1.5 million-acre Everglades National Park. Mrs. Jennings died in Jacksonville in 1963 at the age of 90.                     

Elizabeth Robins was a famous actress and author who owned Chinsegut Hill with her brother Raymond and his wife, Margaret Drier Robins. She used her writing talents to take the issue to the stage. Images courtesy of Florida State Archives.

Elizabeth Robins, Author and Suffragette

Elizabeth Robins, who purchased Snow Hill together with her brother, Raymond Robins and his wife, Margaret Drier Robins, was a strong proponent of women’s right to vote. Elizabeth was a famous actress and author who wrote the play, “Votes for Women” in London to help the suffragette movement.

Margaret Dreier Robins

Margaret Dreier Robins in the center, at the 1907 Women’s Trade Union. Image courtesy of Florida State Archives.

Margaret Dreier Robins was another leader in human rights and voting rights for women who lived in Florida’s Nature Coast. She married Raymond Robins in 1905 and the newlyweds split their time between running a settlement house in Chicago, Illinois, and Chinsegut Hill in Brooksville.

She was President of the Women’s Trade Union League for 15 years, helping organize women into unions, educate women workers, and advocate for progressive legislation, which included American women’s right to vote.

Sketch of Margaret Dreier Robins by Marguerite Martyn. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

When Were Women Allowed to Vote in Other Countries?

Glad you asked.  The right to vote was given to women in a variety of years: Finland (1906); Norway (1913); Denmark and Iceland (1915); USSR (1917); France (1944); Switzerland (1971). 

Know Why You Cast Your Vote

When preparing to move from Minnesota to Brooksville, Florida, to do a radio talk show, I said to myself “no politics or religion!”  Ironically, my first broadcast was in mid-July 1988, right in the middle of political season. 

As often happens, lemons turned to lemonade, and I have had the privilege of interviewing candidates for city, county, and state elections over the years.  That meant I had to do a lot of research, which is one of my favorite things.

Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay

There was a time when I felt like one of the most informed voters in the county.  Sometimes, while waiting in line at the voting precinct, I saw folks carrying a newspaper so they could remember what the media “recommended”, which I always interpreted as endorsements.  (I actually had a discussion about that with a local editor who didn’t agree with me.)  Which brings me to my point, and thanks for your patience.

Voting is a right and a patriotic duty, but I believe we should know as much as possible about the candidates, the amendments, initiatives, etc. 

Wokandapix / Pixabay

Things to Know for Voting 2020’s Presidential Election

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Polls are Open from 7 A.M. – 7 P.M.

Know where your polling precinct is and abide by safety rules.  If you have already mailed your ballot, thank you!  By the way, if you still have your mail-in ballot and decided to vote in-person, bring your ballot documents with you.

Florida has 27 districts with 40 State Senate members (17 Democrats and 23 Republicans) and 120 State Representatives (47 Democrats and 73 Republicans). There may be other party candidates or write-ins.

Flag of the Great State of Florida.

Florida has Six Constitutional Amendments on 2020s Ballot

There are 6 Florida Constitutional Amendments on the 2020 ballot. It can be a bit confusing. Sometimes a “YES” will mean rejection.

For assistance in understanding the full content and implications, just use your internet browser to help understand the following: 

  • Amendment 1: Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections
  • Amendment 2: Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage
  • Amendment 3: All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislators, Governor and Cabinet
  • Amendment 4: Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments
  • Amendment 5: Limitation on Homestead Assessments
  • Amendment 6: Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities
The author, Deanna Dammer Kimbrough shows her Votes for Women banner. Image courtesy of Deanna Dammer Kimbrough.

Some Final Thoughts

Over the years, that “one of the most informed voters” brag-a-do-shish, self-proclaimed honor has diminished. This year, I made a vow to be more informed and show up in person, wearing my VOTES FOR WOMEN banner if allowed.

That’s not political by today’s standards, is it? Oh, it might be interpreted as a request to only vote for female candidates. Oops.

If you hedge about voting because you think it won’t matter, remember there was a time when certain people were not allowed to vote. Also, if you vote and don’t like the results, you can still be proud of fulfilling your patriotic duty. If you choose not to vote, think about this quote about the 2020 elections from NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins, “If we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too.”

God speed Kate Rubins and every American who gets out and VOTES!

Comments

Marvin says

I see the pride you have in wearing Banner, would expect confusing looks, but that is good, as no one could better explain meaning. This makes me, now keep and apply a new thought process, that I will, question myself, do I oppose any support for, a person purely on the fact that person is a woman. Having voted for many Women, I hope that I haven't applied this bias in my other choices. Thanks for the awareness.

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