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Women Saving Democracy

We know the 2022 midterms are going to be as consequential an election as this nation has ever seen. Record numbers of women are now registering to vote every day. Abortion rights, equality—and democracy itself—are all on the ballot.

In this Women & Democracy installment, aptly named Women Saving Democracy, we take a deep dive into the very state of our nation’s systems of justice and democracy; we explore how women’s leadership makes a difference; and we assess what kinds of reforms could ensure more fair representation and democratic outcomes. We’re proud to feature a diverse slate of powerhouse women who serve in an array of roles—as attorneys general, secretaries of state, and local election officials, from across the country and representing both parties—through reported pieces, their own firsthand accounts, pre-recorded video events, and Ms. Studios podcast episodes. And look for a few special features too, including an in-depth piece on how to ensure more women are prepared to run, win, and lead in 2022 and beyond.

Many thanks to RepresentWomen and the Brennan Center for Justice for their partnership. And on behalf of all of our organizations, we extend deepest gratitude to the sponsors for this Women & Democracy installment: Michelle Mercer and Bruce Golden; Craig Newmark Philanthropies; and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Women & Democracy is our new collaborative series, spearheaded by Ms. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR PARTNERSHIPS AND STRATEGY, Jennifer Weiss-Wolf. Each quarter Ms. will publish a new microsite, together with a dedicated partner, that focuses on key issues impacting full and fair representation in our democracy.

Essays

Podcast

  • Women Saving Democracy: On the Front Lines of the Election (Now Live!)

    ON THE ISSUES WITH MICHELE GOODWIN

    Women Saving Democracy: On the Front Lines of the Election (Now Live!)

    Michele Bratcher Goodwin, chancellor's professor of law at U.C. Irvine; executive producer of Ms. Studios and On the Issues podcast

    Natalie Adona, county clerk-recorder elect for Nevada County, Calif.

    Tonya Wichman, director of the Defiance, Ohio, County Board of Elections; certified elections and registration administrator

    Kathy Holland, former director of the Alamance, N.C., County Board of Elections; former president of the North Carolina Association of Directors of Elections

    Listen Now

    https://audio.buzzsprout.com/f0jdgr8lg7akibd00iilidrz6pa9?response-content-disposition=inline&

On Aug. 18, 1920, after a decades long battle to win the right for women to vote, the 19th Amendment was ratified. This was just the beginning of women stepping up in our fight for democracy for over 100 years. Never underestimate the power of women's intuition when it comes to leadership roles.

Tonya Wichman, Defiance County, Ohio, board of elections director

When women vote, we are making a choice to have a voice and use our power for good.

Brenda Cabrera, Fairfax, Va., director of elections

One should not be leery of women in political leadership. Instead, it should be embraced with intention.

Janice Winfrey, Detroit city clerk

Working on the front lines of democracy, I know there’s never been a more important time to speak the truth and stand up to lies. As women, we’ve long had to fight for what’s rightfully ours and it’s time that we take that courage, determination and audacity to defend our elections and the voice of the people. As women, we have long faced the burden of having to defend our bodies, our rights, our very existence. With lies and misinformation churning endlessly and our elections facing unparalleled threats, it’s time that we—as women—turn that enduring courage and tireless conviction to defend our democracy. We are at a critical juncture in this country’s democracy with lies and misinformation threatening our elections and the very basis of our republic. Having to defend observable facts, obvious evidence, and basic common sense is a burden women have long endured, and it’s women who must lead us out of this.

Julie Wise, King County, Wash., elections director

Women are natural problem-solvers and collaborators for complex issues and understand how to juggle multiple competing needs. Including women in the mix ensures differences of opinion that lead to real world solutions.

Michele Forney, senior elections expert at The Elections Group

Over 70 percent of American election administrators are women. We're the ones running elections, pushing back against misinformation, and serving voters across the country.

Brianna Lennon, Boone County, Mo., county clerk

The fight against white supremacy is being led by women of color. The question is no longer whether we can muster the audacity to lead, but whether our allies will have the audacity to follow.

Gabriella Cázares-Kelly, Pima County, Ariz., county recorder

"The processes to keep your ballot safe and secure are dictated by state statute and administrative rules, and strengthened by the people—your friends, neighbors and others—who help to administer elections. Conducting an election is truly a community effort, and we must follow the laws of the state as we work together to administer elections. It is my priority to be “objective, fair and impartial” in the performance of duties so crucial to our electoral process. The county clerk is the guardian of the people’s voice and will while administering and conducting elections. I believe voting is an honor and a privilege, a fundamental right as a United States citizen, and should not be taken for granted."

Chris Walker, Jackson County, Texas, county clerk

For over 100 years women have been fighting for the voices of all women to be heard. As critical and impactful as the efforts of women like Susan B. Anthony and Ida B. Wells were, the same sense of urgency exists today as then for us as women to rise, advocate, and lead.

Tina Barton, Senior Election Expert at The Elections Group, Former Rochester Hills, MI, City Clerk

I’m a former public defender and when I decided to run for office, there were not a lot of women who looked like me. I wanted to make sure that women who historically have been left out of the table of democracy their voices were heard.

Leticia James, New York Attorney General

You end up with a United States Supreme Court that’s so unreflective of the values of the people, because they were appointed by presidents who didn’t win the popular vote.

Dana Nessel, Michigan Attorney General

Our democracy is at an inflection point.

the Honorable Amber McReynolds, national elections expert and USPS governor

When I was considering running for secretary of state, one of the charges against me was, “You're just doing this because you're so ambitious”—as if ambition is a bad thing or aspiration to make positive policy change is a bad thing. But that is something that is used to denigrate and undermine female candidates.

Shenna Bellows, Maine secretary of state

I bring my life experience with me—the fact that I was a voting rights attorney and saw firsthand people who were shut out of the ballot box because of their race or their gender or their age or their income status.

Leigh Chapman, Pennsylvania acting secretary of state

I feel for all of these election workers because they're the front lines of our democracy. I don’t think that anyone realizes the hours they come in, and how exposed they are to these threats. It’s not a good feel for our society and indeed for our nation.

Tahesha Way, New Jersey secretary of state

With our thanks to:

  • Craig Newmark Philanthropies
  • Michelle Mercer & Bruce Golden
  • Rockefeller Brothers Fund