Hillary Clinton wants them. So does Donald Trump. And as the clock is about to run out on the 2016 presidential election, each candidate is trying to win moms over. Hard. Whether you put "soccer," "hockey" (if you're Sarah Palin), or "Walmart" in front of them, mothers are one of the most coveted voting demographics during a race for the White House. However, while moms have been a much-desired voting group for several elections (Politico pegged it to 1996 when the term "soccer mom" surged to popularity in the modern lexicon), they've taken on an especially prominent role in the 2016 election.
Most obviously, for the first time in U.S. history, one of the major party presidential candidates is a mom. But mothers have had a significant influence on both the Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns in countless ways. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump featured mothers in top speaker spots at their conventions — "Mothers of the Movement" spoke for Clinton in Philadelphia, and Patricia Smith, whose son Sean Smith was killed in the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attack, took the stage for Trump in Cleveland. Both Clinton and Trump have depended on mothers to be powerful, influential voices as they've made traditionally "mom" issues, like maternity leave, prominent campaign issues.
While Trump and Clinton are busy courting moms, Bustle reached out to mothers of all ages and all across the country to ask them why they are voting this election.
I’m voting this election because I definitely am concerned about the future I’m leaving for my kids. Also, I’m voting because it’s a really blessed right in this country to be able to go and exercise my right to vote without coming to harm or without being threatened, and I want to enjoy that and preserve that.
I am voting because it is another way that I can participate in the shaping of my country. The right for me to vote is one that was resisted through some of the most disgusting, frustrating and dirty battles within a free country. When I was a teenager, I absorbed every bit of information about the fight for equal rights that was happening then. Though never marching personally beside Martin Luther King, Jr., I marched whenever there were occasions to speak for equal rights in Baltimore where I grew up. I am voting because it's just too important for me not to cast my vote especially at this time. The struggle to get this right to vote AND to get it protected was too great to turn away from. It would be a shame. I'm voting because I want to say I did not give up my right, my obligation, to say who I think will best lead our amazing nation. I'm voting because I want to tip the scales in favor of the candidate I believe has that ability. I think she's the one.
What’s interesting is so many people are so frustrated with this election that they’re saying they’re not going to vote. That’s wrong. That’s not okay. While you could spend some time at the park with your children or spend more time putting them to sleep at night, this could be one of the most important lessons you’re teaching them — not by your word but by your actions, taking them to the voting booth and showing them what it means to be an empowered citizens.
I'm voting because it's my job to raise my son to be someone who believes in equality and civic responsibility and the necessity of social progress. I want him to understand, respect and demand consent, and if I don't vote, I'm contributing to the likelihood that our president will be someone who not only brags about sexual assault, but calls sexual assault survivors "liars," or uses them for political gains. I'm voting because I want my son to be able to look up to the president as someone to emulate, and that person isn't Donald Trump. I'm voting because I want my son to be able to see hard work and selfless dedication pay off.
Lastly, I'm voting because I want my son to care about the people he shares this country with, and voting someone in office who has inclusive public policies that will assist the marginalized people of this country will set a positive example for my son. If I don't show him that I have a responsibility as a citizen of this country, and he will eventually, too, who will?
I heard on the news today that the public is actually "stressed out " by this election, and that it would negatively impact turn-out. People want to distance themselves from the ugliness of this election. I have the opposite feeling... I wish I could vote today, right now.
Stressed out as we are about the tenor of this election, as a woman — and we women are the majority voters — we can't get too distant from this moment. Moms especially have to be as visible at the polls as never before. As moms we have to be models of the vote that women who came before us fought for long ago.
As a mom, I feel like not voting is a dangerous choice for young people, especially those whose connection to Bernie is holding them back. Unlike their own moms, young voters may have to live the rest of their long, long lives negatively impacted by divisiveness in a country that won't reflect the freedoms it was founded upon — if they don't show up to vote.
I'm proud that my kids have voted. I remember taking them to vote at the firehouse with me when they were children. When I did that, I always felt the power it conveyed as a woman and mom to vote. In this election that power to vote is more meaningful than ever before. The stress will disappear when I see the long lines of women and moms with children lined up to defend our freedoms with their vote.
I am voting in this election (and any [and] all I am eligible to participate in) because it is a privilege and a right, an obligation even. Women's suffrage is relatively recent, and we need to not be complacent about our right to vote. The U.S. president is not just a domestic leader, but a world leader — we are not our nation but our world. We are earthlings before we are countrymen/women. That sounds comical, but eventually it makes sense. I could go on, but I'll stop here.
I'm a mother of both a woman and a man. If I didn't vote I would be sending them the wrong message. They are not young children, but we set an example, even as we age, that our votes count, our choices may impact other lives, and we need to celebrate the vestige of democracy that is our vote. Our children will navigate and steer the future. My example should teach them engagement and full participation. No one gets to sit back and opt out, right?
I'm voting because I always vote, and I believe it's my duty as an American citizen to exercise a right that so many sacrificed for in order for me to enjoy.
I've been interested and paying attention to politics since I was in high school, and haven't missed a major election since turning 18. My first was Bush v. Gore with Nader as the spoiler. I voted for Gore. The world would be a different place had he won.
This election year is like nothing I've seen. Trump is a vile human being and makes me ashamed for America, while Clinton has always impressed me. She's a brilliant politician and an inspiring person. Her platform is in line with my progressive beliefs, and I'm very excited to vote for her. This is the first campaign in which I've felt so strongly about a candidate that I've been donating my time to volunteer.
I also think it's great that my boys have the opportunity to grow up in a time when women and people of color have been at the helm of our country, and I hope they will grow up in a time of inclusivity and share a sense that all must be treated equally.
I'm voting in this election for same reason I voted in every presidential election since I turned 18 — because it's my right and responsibility. In terms of my choice of candidate, becoming a parent hasn't substantially changed my priorities. Foreign policy is my number one issue, followed by social policy and climate change. I cared about these issues before my daughter was born, but they're definitely intensified by my desire for the world to be a good and safe place for her to grow up in.
What's really different in my first election as a parent is the knowledge that whomever is elected will be an important figure in my child's life. This will be the first president she remembers. It matters to me that the president is someone she can respect, and whose qualities I would be proud for her to emulate.
I’m voting in the 2016 Presidential Election because when I do, it is a promise to myself. It is about who I am as an American, a woman, a human being. I missed some local elections when I was younger and felt terrible about myself. Missing those voting opportunities meant that I broke a promise to myself and it hurt my character.
Abstaining from voting in this election means to me that you aren’t showing up when things are tough. It means forfeiture, in my book, forfeiture of who you are as a human being. It tarnishes your character, and in my house, it also means you forfeit your right to complain about politics and those in office.
As I think about this from a woman’s point of view, I’m reminded of the years of challenges all women faced and continue to face in this country for equal pay, safe abortions, a seat at the table, and not so long ago the right to vote. I watched my mother, grandmothers, and aunts struggle against these challenges at work or applying for bank loans.
Not voting negates all those who fought for our rights years before us. While we have earned these rights so many women and disenfranchised groups still experience challenges. Not voting puts these rights perilously close to being squashed at minimum and quite possibly eliminated.
My own mother actively worked for candidates and issues that she cared about, and she taught me that it was not only my right, but my duty to vote in every election.
When I was young, she took me into the voting booth with her and let me pull the lever. (The voting machines were much different in those days.) As an eight year old, I left campaign literature in people’s front doors and stuffed envelopes at candidate’s headquarters.
I vote because I care about the future of America for my kids and for future generations, and I know my voice counts. I do not take this for granted.
I feel that not being informed and not voting would be irresponsible and dangerous. We must make smart choices. The world is watching. (And my mom might be, too.)
I vote in every election because I think voting is very important. It’s not just this election. I just feel that you can’t complain about things if you don’t vote.
I’m voting for Hillary Clinton because I feel she has a vision. So much needs to happen in the country to move us forward, and I think she has the plans to do that. I think it’s especially important for women to vote, because we had to fight for the right to vote, and if you don’t vote, you disrespect these women who paved the way.
As a mom, it’s not about our generation anymore. It’s about our kids, the future generations. My number one concern is the security of this nation. My husband is a security expert. He can’t tell me everything he knows, but he impresses upon me “Jodi, you have no idea how unsafe our country is.” My main reason for voting for Donald Trump is that we need a secure nation. Donald Trump will secure our borders and shorelines. Donald will build up our depleted military. The vets are very important to me, too. My father who is a Vet, has to wait a year to get his hearing aids checked through the Vets (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs). Really? Imagine if you had a real medical issue. Donald will get rid of waste, fraud and abuse in the VA. For me, as a mother, I want my kids to be okay. I want my kids to get on a plane and be safe. That’s it. Voting for me was always exciting. I remember when I was little, going with my mom to a voting site at a fire station. I thought it was so cool when the curtains closed and she pulled the levers. I was always involved in politics. In my youth I was a political reporter and I still keep a keen eye on politics. But now it's for my kids and the safety and security of this nation.
I just voted early in Colorado for gun sense champion Hillary Clinton because she’s the only candidate in the race who supports gun safety and has vowed to take on the gun lobby to keep our families and communities safe. And given that the other guy has a shameful record of degrading women, inciting violence and being wholly aligned with the extremist gun lobby agenda for more guns everywhere, for anyone, no questions asked – who to vote for is a no-brainer. And while American women make up only a quarter of state legislators, one in five members of U.S. Congress, and just a sliver of Fortune 500 CEOs, we are the majority of the voting electorate. We have the power to penalize those who stood with the gun lobby after the shooting at Sandy Hook School, and to reward those who stood up to the gun lobby by voting for background checks on all gun sales.
I am voting this election, for one, it's my obligation as an American citizen to do so. But also, I feel this election is important for my children's future. America will either end in this election or it will be brought back to the very basis in which America was made. As a mother and a Christian, I have seen how harsh people have become on religion. Hillary expects people to change their beliefs with the times. Trump believes in freedom of religion. He also believes in border security where Hillary does not. I don't want my kids and grandkids growing up in a world where rape, killing gays, mass shootings are a thing. Everyone has a right to a peaceful life I just don't see that happening with Hillary. And that's why I have already voted Trump.
I am voting in this election because I have the privilege and responsibility of being able to cast my ballot. This is the third time I am going to vote. I was born and raised in Mexico, and I moved to the States as a young adult. I take the responsibility very seriously. I am voting this election particularly because I want the public officials, the elected officials, to hear what my choices are as a mother, as a Latina. I want the future of my kids to be represented well. I want my kids to be living in a country where they won’t be second-class citizens. I would like to make that clear by voting in this election. I would also like to vote because I don’t want other people to speak for me. I want to make sure that my priorities are voiced in my vote.
I vote because I see how policy decisions affect us every day, and I talk to my kids about it. From driving our car to sending them to public school, from living in our house to going to work, there are virtually no areas of our life that aren't touched by policies made by elected officials. If you don't have a say, those decisions will be made without you. Good and bad policies can change our lives. I have taught my children that it is our responsibility and our right to understand these issues and make informed choices as good citizens. It's a way to help ourselves and our neighbors. So many Americans fought for the right to vote, and the best way to be a good American is to honor them by exercising that right!
Pam Soule Genant
I feel it is my responsibility to vote. One hundred years ago, I would not have been able to vote. The women that fought for my right to vote, hold me up on their shoulders, encouraging me to go higher. I vote for myself and to honor that commitment. The second and third reasons I vote, are my children, the boys in the photo. I have nurtured them all their lives and I feel it is my duty to ensure that I do my best to leave this world in a better place for them in many different ways — part of that includes voting.
This is the first election I have ever considered to decline my right to vote. My deep research convinced me that neither of the top two candidates would be anyone I could trust to represent me, or my loved ones. Then I looked further and discovered the other parties running. I will vote.
I took my two daughters to vote last night, and the best part was hearing my five year old explain to her my little pony what voting is. She said, "Voting is when you get to choose, all by yourself, what you want."
[I'm voting] because my daughter deserves to be treated with respect, and I want a better, more just world for her.
I vote because so many women before me fought for that right. It's an honor to vote and teach my daughter that her voice can make a difference. I vote so policies affecting parents and children are strengthened — policies like paid family leave, equal pay, and quality, affordable childcare. I vote for my children.
I want to vote to represent the undocumented Hispanics that never will!
I’m voting because I’m a naturalized citizen, a Mexican immigrant woman, a single mother of two children, and someone whose parents left behind their own dreams to provide my sister and me with a better future.
I never miss an election. I believe the lifeblood of our democracy is participation, not just at the voting booth but in holding our leaders accountable and making sure they know our priorities once they are in office. From education and early learning to workplace policies and gun safety, our elected leaders make decisions that impact my family every day. I take my kids with me to vote because I want them to know that their voices—and one day their votes—matter.
I have not missed an election since first registering when I was 18, and this year, I was especially motivated to vote! My right to cast a ballot was one that was hard fought, and every time I go to the polls, I am grateful. Just like voting, it wasn't that long ago that it was illegal for women to wear trousers in public either!
After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in a former Soviet country, I saw how blessed we are to have an opportunity to vote and choose the people who will make decisions about our lives.
I'm voting because I want a nation with equality, social justice, and non-violence in which my children can thrive. I want a country where multiculturalism is celebrated, inclusion is the norm, and we are taking advantage of our diversity to create a harmonious society. I'm also voting because it is not only my duty, but my right, one that I don't take for granted as I know the women in generations before me had to fight to get it. I'm voting because I'm an American, and I have a voice that many in my community don't have. Moreover, I'm taking my children with me to the voting booth so they can learn, at an early age, that they, too, have a voice, and with that comes great power and great responsibility.
I have not spent my entire adult life (and most of my youth) proclaiming my feminism just to sit back now and let my son see a misogynistic clown run the nation. Instead, I want him to see strength and potential in his female peers. I want him to know that we each own our own bodies. And I want him to know that when he sees something, or someone, who is wrong for the greater good, he has a voice to stop it.
I'm the single mom of a three-year-old boy. I want him to grow up in a country that is inclusive and forward-thinking, a place that values diversity and independence. Hillary's vision for the country most closely aligns with the type of world I want my son to grow up in.
Images: Courtesy of Mary Jones; Sharon Weiss-Greenberg; Danielle Campoamor; Trish Rubin; Carol Callanan; Elise Coleman; Anna Caplan; Christine Stahler; Susan Saltzman; Jodi Pharis; Shannon Watts; Ashley Cerasuolo; Xochitl Oseguera; Jeannine Sato; Pam Soule Genant; Kelle Pressley; Jessica Hulick; Kim Swanson; Martha Arango; Sheila Arias; Beth Messersmith; Teresa Rowell; Dania Santana; Heather Whaling