August 26th is Women’s Equality Day, marking the 92nd anniversary of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote. While much work remained in the 20th century to assure that everyone could exercise their right to vote, the 19th amendment was an important threshold. It is particularly significant for local school boards, as Kentucky’s 1838 law permitting married women with children to vote in school board elections was the first state suffrage law following the American Revolution. It took the rest of the country more than 80 years to catch up.
Casting a shadow on this celebration, however, is the wave of laws proposed or passed in 37 states to impose stricter requirements for voting – laws that could adversely impact representation in our highest-need communities. These laws frequently require various forms of identification in order to vote, but other restrictions – such as limiting early voting hours – are other forms of voter suppression. While safeguards for the integrity of elections are necessary, a nationwide analysis of 2000 alleged voter fraud cases published in the The Washington Post shows that instances of voter impersonation are extremely rare. If extrapolated to the entire eligible population, voter impersonation could be as rare as 1 in 15 million prospective voters.
BoardBuzz thinks school districts can be catalysts for civic education and engagement by students and communities – especially for students who are 18 years old and eligible to vote for the very first time. This year’s national elections will set the course for the United States for years to come. Redistricting resulting from the 2010 Census means that many Americans will be voting for newly-minted candidates and/or state & national legislative districts. And only once every twenty years does redistricting coincide with the presidential election, upping the stakes for voters who must also choose who will represent them in the White House.
The most important number for the 2012 elections then? November 6th – Election Day!