In honor of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the 19th amendment and the creation of The League of Women Voters, we are asking our members and audience for their personal voting stories, and the stories of their mothers and/or grandmothers. We hope you find them inspiring!
When she was in her late 20s, she was hired by the US State Department as a diplomatic “liaison.” That was her description for her role. I don’t know that she had an actual title. She was the only woman at the time doing what she did. She had learned to speak Spanish and was posted to various Latin American countries to provide short-term support to US embassy personnel in their communications with representatives of the governments in whose countries they worked.
Women’s right to vote and, as a result, societal changing views about the roles women could play, probably opened the door for her to have the opportunity that changed the course of her life.
By the time my mother was assigned to Guatemala, she had had her fill of packing and unpacking her suitcase every few months. She fell in love with the country, met wonderful people who became dear friends, and quit her government job. She met my father, and they married. That’s how I came to be born and raised in Guatemala.
I was in high school during the 1960s, which were the early years of a brutal 30-year civil war. It pitted the country’s large indigenous population against military forces that acted with impunity. There were other violent factions at play, with their own agendas, adding to the dangerous, deadly conflicts. At various points, we lived under martial law, or strict curfews. The country’s system of government was said to be a democracy, and because the United States applied a lot of pressure, elections were held.
But everyone knew ballot boxes were stuffed, votes were bought (an inexpensive strategy when campesinos made less than $1 a day) and ballots were tallied incorrectly, to name a few of the shenanigans. In a nutshell, elections were a sham.
When I arrived in the United States to go to college, I couldn’t wait to register to vote! Because my mother was American, I gained my citizenship through her. Being in this country, I had the confidence that my vote would count, just like everyone else’s. I knew I could go to my polling place and cast my ballot without being intimidated or coerced to favor a candidate. Because of the world I grew up in, I’ve never taken this very important right for granted.
Do you have a personal voting story to share, about yourself or a family member? We'd love to hear it! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org