A century after women won the right to vote in Oregon, voter participation among other segments of the population is in the national spotlight. Controversial voter ID laws passed in several states threaten to undermine civic engagement among minority populations, says Caitlin Baggott, executive director of The Bus Project.
“The reality is that civic participation is a fundamental part of an effective democracy. In a state like Oregon, where there are a half million people under the age of 35 who are eligible to vote but are not registered, it’s incorrect to say that is an individual problem and that these individuals are apathetic,” she says. “That is a breakdown of our system and it’s our government’s responsibility to ensure that citizens have a secure way to vote without being hassled.
“When women were allowed to vote, it changed the course of social policy for years to come, and my expectation is if we did a better job of creating full suffrage for all citizens, it would also change the course of social policy for years to come,” Baggott says.
— Melody Finnemore