Claiming their right to vote as women

IWaited96Years features women voting for a female president for the first time

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As Americans flock to cast their ballots for the candidates of their choice, in the final hours of the election, a few aged voters have been going viral across social media. IWaited96Years, set up by Sarah Bunin Benor, Roberta Schultz Benor, and Tom Fields-Meyer in Los Angeles, is a website celebrating old women claiming their right to vote. Established in October 2016, the website was inspired by a photo of Sarah’s grandmother (Roberta’s mother) Estelle L Schultz, casting her absentee ballot for Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.

In early October, on Estelle’s request, Sarah posted a photo of her grandmother on Facebook casting her vote for possibly the first female president saying, “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.” Facebook users responded with congratulations and admiration for the woman, some even sharing stories of their own elderly female relatives casting their history-making ballots. A few weeks and over 2,000 likes later, Sarah and company were setting up a website to inspire other elderly voters and bring their stories to light.  

As of now, the website features photos of at least 154 women, all born shortly before or after the 19th Amendment gave them the right to vote, casting their ballot in support of Hillary Clinton. “I posted a picture of my grandmother on Facebook with her absentee ballot,” said Sarah to Now This. “We didn’t expect to be this big!” Some of the stories Sarah has to share are truly incredible. “One woman wrote about how at age 98, I think, she bicycles around her retirement community with her Hillary button,” Sarah says. Another voter, 99-year-old Ellen Schuman writes, “While I was glad to see Mr. Obama win the [2012] presidency I was a little sad that Hillary did not get to run and I mentioned to my daughter that I didn’t think I would live to see a woman president. Now in 2016 I am thrilled to vote for Hillary, and I very much hope that my pessimistic prophecy is proved wrong.” Even Hillary Clinton herself has heard word of the women featured on the website, Sarah adds excitedly. She proudly mentions how her own grandmother received a signed letter in the mail from the candidate, and it was very special to her.

The video featuring IWaited96Years has been widely circulated, receiving over 134,000 shares in less than a day. “I think the women’s quotes say it all,” Sarah says. “It’s important to exercise your right to vote. We live in a democracy and so it’s really important for people - no matter who you’re supporting - to get out there and vote.”

The women themselves meanwhile, are optimistic not only of Clinton’s chances to win, but also her potential as President. “My generation defeated Hitler. I will not see what we have built be destroyed by racism and fear of immigrants,” said 99-year-old Anne Wainscott. “America is too good for that.”

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