When women vote, women can win

CLEVELAND — High hopes were in the air Nov. 1 at the Women’s March sponsored by the Greater Cleveland Voter Registration Coalition, which had registered over 12,000 new voters in the run-up to the election. “We want Democracy!” and “Secure our vote!” and “When women vote, women win!” chanted the multiracial group on their way to the steps of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Their strong voices and loud pink T-shirts attracted the media assembled there for election coverage. “We felt we needed to get more publicity,” Tanjie Smith, 29, told the World. Smith was happy at the turnout and media attention, not just because she’s a coalition organizer and the march was her idea, but because “women can decide this election.”

Shyly, but with growing confidence, Smith’s oldest daughter Samaria Kyle, age 12, told the crowd and the news cameras, “My mother started voting at 18, and I intend to vote when I turn 18 … for strong families.”

Mexi Wilson, 32, spoke to the press as she held her 5-year-old son Jamel. “We also want our young people to come out to vote, students and those in minority communities, strong and united,” she said. “It’s all about the future.”

Cleveland’s Mayor Jane Campbell said, “This is a great way to raise the visibility, now let’s go to work!”

Activities like this march “keep our spirits high,” said Judy Gallo, co-convener of the coalition, who was anticipating record voter turnouts.

Still chanting as they marched back to their coalition’s offices at the United Labor Agency, Smith wouldn’t make a prediction except to say, “If we don’t win or if the election is not fair, we’ll see more of this.”

On Election Day, the women of Ohio were split 50-50, according to CNN exit polls, though a whopping 82 percent of women of color voted for Kerry.

— Noel Rabinowitz (noel@cpusa.org).