US & Canada

Meet the US citizens ending a 96-year wait to vote for a woman

Image copyright I Waited 96 Years
Image caption These women, all older than 96, voted by postal ballot and shared their stories

On 8 November, millions of American women will do something they have never had the chance to do before - vote for a woman nominated as a major party's candidate to become president of the United States.

For some of them, it ends a 96-year wait.

Anyone born before 18 August 1920 in the US started life in a country that did not allow women to vote.

That includes Estelle Schultz, 98, a World War Two plant worker and lifelong educator, who was taken to the polls as a child by her mother to see the ballots cast.

Estelle has a serious heart condition and is in hospice care. But, she said: "I decided that I would like to live long enough to see the election of our first woman president."

In October, as she marked her postal ballot, she said she realised how "poignant" the situation was, and asked her granddaughter Sarah to post a photo to Facebook.

Image copyright Sarah Benor
Image caption 'I'm posting this on the request of my 98-year-old grandma, who doesn't use computers,' Sarah wrote

That photo quickly gathered hundreds of likes - prompting Sarah and her family to seek out similar stories.

They found many others, and the website "I waited 96 years" was born, filled with comments from Hillary Clinton supporters born before women's suffrage.

Some are old enough to remember women earning the right to vote, once the 19th amendment to the US constitution passed.

"I remember accompanying my mother in a horse-drawn carriage to the polls in the first election when women, at long last, had the right to vote," wrote 103-year-old Juliet Bernstein from Massachusetts, who was born in 1913, and earned her bachelor's degree with encouragement from her mother.

Image copyright AP
Image caption 102-year-old Democrat Geraldine "Jerry" Emmett is also a contributor

"My mother was among the first women to cut her hair short and to switch from the long skirts that dragged in the mud to short dresses," said Beatrice Lumpkin, 98, from Chicago.

"It's all about our rights, starting with the right to vote. When I got old enough to understand, how proud I was to learn what the suffragettes dared do to win women's right to vote."


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Several of the contributors said they are simply happy to have the chance to vote for a woman for president in their lifetime - something many of them never thought possible.

In the case of Angela Estelle Garavelli Astor, who died on October 21, aged 98, she cast her ballot during early voting, but passed away before seeing the results. "If I vote one more time I want it to be for a woman," she said.

Image copyright I Waited 96 Years
Image caption The late Angela Astor cast her early ballot shortly before her death

But for many of these nonagenarians and centenarians, their vote is a marker of just how far women's rights have come.

"I have been a feminist since before there was a word for it," said Eugenia Perkins, 102. "It is about time there was a woman president!"

And for 99-year-old Sylvia Schulman, "this vote is not just because Hillary is a woman."

"It's to show that we as women can do anything we want, especially when we have worked hard in our careers to obtain the experience necessary to excel," she said.

Image copyright I Waited 96 Years
Image caption 'I have been a feminist since before there was a word for it,' says Eugenia Perkins, 102

"It's nice to show my granddaughter and great-granddaughter that the sky is the limit and they can do anything a man can do."

The efforts of the site have not gone unnoticed - Ms Schultz, whose photo began the trend, received a personal letter from Hillary Clinton in late October.

"I have often been overwhelmed to think of the awesome responsibility I have as America's first female nominee of a major political party," she wrote.

"We have achieved so much ... but we have one last ceiling to shatter."

"Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for forging new trails in your own life and blazing a path for me to follow."


More on the US election

Key issues - where candidates stand

The A-Z - a guide to the political jargon

President Trump - what Donald in the Oval Office would mean

Special report: The BBC's full coverage of the race to the White House


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