Twenty-twenty—a year none of us could have predicted. Amidst a racial reckoning and a global pandemic that has simultaneously transformed our lives, we’re arguably facing the most consequential election of our time.
On November 3, 2020, millions of Americans will use their collective power to write our country’s next chapter. Voting isn’t just about choosing who represents us in the White House—it’s about determining who we want to lead our schools, our police departments, our courts. We witnessed the power of the polls in 2018 when the country experienced the highest midterm election voting turnout in four decades, electing a historic number of women to office. It was a milestone for our democracy, but there’s still much work to be done.
That work begins with holding free and fair elections. This month marks the centennial of women’s right to vote—though not all women were able to exercise that right immediately. The 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, but it took an additional 45 years for the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to ban discriminatory Jim Crow laws that disenfranchised Black people. The fight continues today with voters in counties across the nation battling discriminatory practices that disproportionately affect people of color.
A true democracy only exists when we all vote.
With fewer than 100 days until Election Day, Marie Claire asked 100 influential women—celebrities, politicians, activists, authors, and business leaders—to share their personal reason for casting a ballot this fall. We hope their answers inspire you to register to vote, then safely head to the polls (or mail in your ballot!) this November. Read the responses, below, then join the conversation using the hashtag #WhyImVoting to make your voice heard.
“I believe voting is part of a deep responsibility I have to make this country better. Every right and liberty I enjoy has been voted into law. Now those of us who have those rights must vote in the interest of others. The world I want to live in isn't reflected in our government officials and that needs to change. That's why I'm voting.”
“When talking about voting, I feel a sense of ‘indebted gratitude.’ I vote to pay respect to the leaders who have put their lives on the line for the rights of my communities to access the polls; I believe it to be a personal responsibility to continue and honor their legacies—from the brilliant and impassioned Congressman John Lewis to the trailblazer Ida B. Wells. Voting is a powerful activation of civic engagement and an invaluable opportunity to carry with me the voices of the underrepresented.”
“I vote because I want the world to be a better place. Our world is facing multiple crises that affect all of our daily lives. The health of our communities, our country, and our world depends on engaged citizens making sure our voices are heard. And that starts with voting.”
“I am voting because I want change. I want radical, life-altering, culture-shifting change. I want politicians who truly represent the will of those who do not shrink when they hear words like, ‘inclusion,’ ‘equality,’ and ‘justice.’ I am voting because Black Lives Matter and I want to ensure our voices are heard loud and clear. I am voting because I want better and more for those who have been forced to swallow empty campaign promises for generations without seeing much difference time and time again. I am voting precisely because I've grown weary and I am looking towards the potential lifeline that elections and new voices can bring.”
“The healthcare system is a disaster. LGBTQIA+ rights are under attack. Black people are killed by the police. Many Americans aren't earning living wages. Funding for schools, social workers, and mental wellness professionals is abominable. The list goes on. So I'm voting not because the system suddenly became broken. I'm voting because the system was specifically designed to be broken. My vote says, ‘I know what you're doing and I won't stand for it.’ My vote announces the beginning of my work to help dismantle the harmful institutions that run America.”
“I am voting because becoming a United States citizen is the most important thing that ever happened to me. I came to the U.S. as a little girl, after my family fled fascism and communism. My father said that when we were in Europe during World War II people would say, 'We are sorry for your troubles and hope that you have everything you need; by the way, when will you be leaving to go back home?' But in America, people said: 'We are sorry for your troubles and hope that you have everything you need; by the way, when will you become a citizen?' It is the privilege and responsibility of every U.S. citizen to vote this November.”
“I am voting in the 2020 election for marginalized communities that for too long have been unseen and unheard. I am voting for competent leadership to address the continuing public health crisis and our worsening economic crisis. I am voting to fight back against voter suppression tactics that disproportionately impact voters of color. I am voting to ensure we have leadership that not only sees our values as Americans, but works to address their needs. I am voting because voting is power.”
“I’m voting in November because we can and must be better, as a country. I think voting is one step in getting us there—a nation where Black lives matter, women are respected, trans people live full and dignified lives, and where people have what they need to live well. I’m voting because I want to see new and visionary leadership at all levels of government—from City Hall to Congress. I’m voting to improve my life and the lives of the people I love.”
“This summer marks the centennial of women winning the right to vote. But not all women. Black women were shamefully left out even though they fought for suffrage. It took four more decades to right that wrong, and the fight for full voting rights for all continues today. Now, 100 years later, women—across race, geography, background, ability, and more—have the opportunity to make history as the majority of voters and elect the first woman vice president. This November, I'll be with them.”
“I vote for the Black women baptized into America’s hell, but who always create our own glory. For the South African disabled activists who gifted us a simple credo: nothing about us without us. The vote is a sacred seedling of transformation. It’s why the powers that be try desperately to steal it—and why I will never, ever give it away. Silence doesn’t break chains. It never has, and it never will.”
“COVID-19 has highlighted how deeply the government is failing women, families, and communities of color. Lack of access to paid leave, child care, and health care have made life needlessly difficult—pandemic or no pandemic. This election is our chance to build a country that works for everyone. If women vote to turn the Senate blue and elect Joe Biden, we can do that. Women spent decades fighting for our right to vote because they knew a more just, inclusive America would be a stronger one. Let’s prove them right.”
“I'm voting because it's the core of our power in a democracy and ceding that power plays into the hands of the opposition. Now, more than ever, we need to elect leaders who are committed to ensuring that reproductive freedom is for every body, and that people, regardless of their race or how much money they make or where they live, can make their own personal decisions about pregnancy without politicians interfering.”
“Need a reason to vote? I’ve got 160,000 reasons, and counting. Do it for them.”
“I am voting because I believe that every vote counts! My ancestors marched, fought, and died for me to be able to vote. I don’t take that for granted!”
“I’m voting because people currently in the White House don’t want me to.”
“We will be voting this year and we hope all of you beautiful souls will be as well. As the youth a part of this generation, we have no problem speaking up for what’s right and raising our voices and demanding change. Now is our time, now is our moment. Whether you’re standing in line at the polls or doing the mail-in ballots, make sure you let your voice be heard.”
“I’m voting this November because we don’t have a choice. As a woman, as a millennial, as someone who cares about the kind of world we live in now and the future we’re building, I know that voting and changing who holds power is our only hope—before it’s too late.”
“I'm voting to honor Ida B. Wells, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Daisy Elizabeth Adams Lampkin, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, and so many others who fought for my right to vote. At an unprecedented time when our democracy and voting rights are under attack, I'm voting because so many people still don't want me to show up. I'm voting because I won't be silenced.”
“It seems like every election is touted as the most important of our lifetimes. The difference with 2020 is that it’s true. The array of crises piling upon Americans is extraordinary. The most consequential protest movement in half a century transforms our country. The most alarming civil disorder in generations wracks our cities. The first true pandemic in a century brings death to our communities, and collapse to our economy. The challenge of rival powers abroad threatens our standing in the world—and the peace we’ve come to expect. All these things are felt directly in our communities, our homes, and our lives. All these things are solvable—or not—depending on how Americans vote on November 3. I’m not here telling you to do it one way or another. I’m here telling you to do it.”
“This is 2020. A huge reason why I am voting is because the congressional district lines will be drawn by the state representatives we elect this year. It’s crucial we focus our attention on down ballot candidates who are more likely to draw districts that are not gerrymandered. Voters should select our representatives—not representatives selecting voters. I am voting for reproductive rights, racial justice, civil rights, climate justice, economic justice. I am voting for the hope of campaign finance reform. HR1 needs to be signed into law to secure every citizen's right to vote. We need money out of politics so that our representatives are working for their constituents and not their donors. HR1 could be the beginning of that. I hope everyone fills out their census information—it’s just as important as the election. Voting is about us being counted. So is the census. We should all be counted.”
“I vividly remember my parents taking me with them to the polls for every election during my childhood. They wanted to reinforce over and over again the importance of civic participation through voting. We would spend days before the election discussing all of the candidates on the ballot and the reasons for their preferences. They explained the sacrifices people had made so that they could have the right to vote. We'd talk about my great-great grandfather who was one of the first Black legislators in Louisiana, understanding that his election was made possible because his supporters voted. I can still remember the giddy excitement that I felt the first time I was eligible to vote in 1976 as those childhood memories came rushing back, an emotion that has stayed with me every time I vote.”
“There is so much we cannot control. However, when it comes to those who represent us in this country, we have a unique opportunity. 2020 marks the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment when our country acknowledged women had a voice that needed to be part of our democracy. Female voices are so important to our future, and I’m proud to be one of these voices that’s opening doors for the next generation. Every day is an opportunity to make a difference. I vote because it gives me a chance to make meaningful change.”
“I believe we need to create an inclusive democracy that works for all of us. And so I vote because it’s one core way I ensure that my voice and values are heard. While the system is clearly flawed, I do think that it’s important to remember that we also vote on issues and the leaders who can provide solutions to our concerns at both the local and national level. I believe that our vote matters and collectively it shapes our future.”
“Structural change begins at the ballot box. To change unfair and unjust laws that disproportionately impact communities of color, we must change the lawmakers. That’s why I’m committed to voting for and electing leaders that advance political equity for the Black community. I'm voting to make sure my sons, Carter and Elijah, can grow up in a society where they can thrive and aren’t considered a threat or treated unjustly. For me, every election is an opportunity to vote for a future where they can be unapologetically Black and achieve their dreams.”
“After four years of raising our voices in protest, we are now less than 100 days away from making our voices heard at the ballot box (or by mail!). This year I’m voting not only to honor and exercise my fundamental right to participate in democracy—but to demand that we revitalize and renew our democracy itself. I’m voting for those who will fight for an America that finally, fully rises to and realizes its promise of justice, equality, and dignity for us all. (And that includes candidates who take a stand for menstrual equity!)”
“I am voting as another tool to take intentional action in a world where indifference is simply not enough. My vote is alongside my march, my vote is alongside my BIPOC, woman, disabled and queer-owned purchases, my vote is alongside my demands to my neighbors, friends, representatives, and institutions to show up for marginalized communities. Yes, I am voting but keeping in mind that voting is not enough. We must continue to find ways to do the work and demand accountability amongst ourselves, each other, and the world. Our literal lives are depending on it.”