THEY'RE WITH HER

These women were born before women had the right to vote. Now they’re voting for the first female president.

iwaited96years.com

Many young people take the right to vote for granted, as evidenced by the fact that only half of them voted in the last two presidential elections.

But as older and non-white Americans know, voting hasn’t always been a given for everyone in this country. In fact, there are women alive today who were born without the right to vote—which, for you history nerds, means they were born prior to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in August 1920.

For these women, 2016 marks another major milestone: Ninety-six years after they earned the right to vote, they can finally cast a ballot for the first female president. A website called I waited 96 years! has been gathering their stories, and collectively, they’re moving enough to inspire even the campaign cynics among us feel a little mushy inside.

The site was started by Sarah Bunin Benor after she posted a Facebook photo of her 98-year-old grandmother, Estelle L. Schultz, casting an absentee ballot. Under the photo, she wrote, “Estelle L. Schultz, who was born two years before women had the right to vote, marked her absentee ballot for the first female president, Hillary Clinton.”

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-2-34-45-pm

The photo went viral and Benor decided to expand the project, taking submissions from other women born before the 19th Amendment. The website now features 43 women aged 96 and older.

For many of the ladies, voting for Clinton validates everything women have fought for over the last century, and they feel lucky to witness it in person.

“When I was born women had no voice and were not allowed to vote,” wrote 96-year-old Consuelo Lopez in her bio on the site. “Now we are about to make history and have a woman president for the United States. I never thought in a million years I would see that happen. It’s a glorious time.”

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-2-20-06-pmIWaited96Years!

Katherine Blood Hoffman, 102, still remembers a time when women did not have the same rights as men and her vote for Clinton is a giant F-you to the patriarchy.

“This election means that women can achieve anything,” she writes. “In 1937 I was accepted into the medical school at Duke University. I decided not to attend because female students were required to sign a pledge stating that they would not marry while in school. The male students did not have to sign and did not have the same restriction. I did not think that this was fair.”

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-2-22-08-pmIWaited96Years!

 

Molly Hirschfield, 99, echoed that sentiment, writing, “Voting for Hillary means women can aspire to the highest office and have the freedom to be whatever their talents and hard work allow them. I hope to see Hillary become Madam President before I turn 100 at the end of November.”

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-2-23-36-pmIWaited96Years!

For another woman, voting for Clinton was her final act. Angela Estelle Garavelli Astor, 98, voted for Clinton via absentee ballot and died shortly afterward. According to her bio, Garavelli had previously told her family, “If I vote one more time I want it to be for a woman.”

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-2-24-39-pm

But voting for Clinton isn’t just some moment these women have waited nearly a century for—it’s also proof that their hard-fought victories for women’s equality have actually mattered. That America actually values women.

“This vote means that the population of the U.S. has not gone completely berserk,” explained 100-year-old Stellajoe Staebler in her bio. “I am grateful that at the age of 100 I’m still able to vote and that there is a highly qualified woman to vote for. I have imagined that this would happen someday. I’m thrilled that it’s in my lifetime and that the Democratic party has given us this chance.”

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-2-28-56-pmIWaited96Years!

Staebler is right—96 years is a long freaking time to wait for the first female U.S. president.

So on that note, dear Americans, let’s not f*ck it up, okay?