As a 21-year-old woman, I’m concerned about the November election. I was a poll worker in the Wisconsin primaries in April, at a peak time of the pandemic. Older poll workers didn’t want to show up, as they feared getting COVID-19. The chaos of poll sites changing voting rules and safety protocols made it clear that unless we fix this soon and let people vote safely — by mail or other ways — Americans will be forced to choose between their right to vote and their health (or lives).
Voter suppression will lead to lower voter turnout in areas where people are most at risk, which will ultimately lead to more restrictions on women’s health and rights. Women, especially Black and Brown women, are on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, yet are being left out.
This pandemic didn’t create these problems; it has further revealed the systematic ways we undervalue and under-support women, especially Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and transgender and gender nonconforming (GNC) people. Women of color make up the majority of low-wage earners and Black women are twice as likely as White men to report being laid off or furloughed. Trans women and GNC communities who were already facing transphobia and transmisogyny are now facing high unemployment and delays in necessary health care.
We demand comprehensive and affordable health care. We demand paid sick time and paid family and medical leave. We demand personal protective equipment for all health-care providers and other essential workers. We demand income support and in-kind relief for the essential workers, women-owned small businesses, and people struggling at home. We can’t wait. Congress must take action now.
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