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Rock the Vote: Women Who Ran for President

Did you vote yesterday? Turnout for midterm elections is notoriously lower than for a presidential election. Last year, citizens did their civic duty at the lowest rate since World War II with a mere 38% of registered voters pulling levers at their local polling places. Pundits say that midterm elections lack the “wow” factor of presidential elections. But, with everything from congressional seats up for grabs to initiatives to legalize marijuana on the ballot each election, it’s clear that having a say in who represents us and what becomes law is important - no matter what year it is.

Looking forward to the next election, we imagine record numbers turning out at the polls if Hillary Clinton wins the 2016 Democratic nomination for president. She’s the first woman to gain traction in the race for the presidency -- now that’s what we call a “wow” factor.

But did you know that Hillary Clinton's not the first woman to run for president? Over 30 women have received third party presidential nominations and many more have joined the race for the title of the leader of the free world. The candidates have ranged from the serious (Shirley Chisholm, Democratic Party, 1972) to the absurd (Gracie Allen, Surprise Party, 1940) with Victoria Woodhull of the Equal Rights Party holding the distinction of being the first female presidential candidate in 1872, which was nearly 50 years before the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. Not surprisingly, a big part of her platform was universal suffrage. Few of the women who have run have actually made it onto the ballot though, and none have received a major party nomination. Most have been relegated to the history books like Belva Ann Lockwood, National Equal Right Pay Party, 1884/1888 or Charlene Mitchell, Communist Party, 1968. Names you probably recognize include Bella Abzug, Democratic Party, 1972; Elizabeth Dole, Republican Party, 2000; and Roseanne Barr, Green Party, 2012.

With countries including Australia, Great Britain, Canada, Turkey, Pakistan, Germany, India, Ireland and Israel all having elected female leaders, it’s surprising that America lags so far behind. That’s what makes the possibility of a Hillary run all the more historic. All eyes will be on the 2016 presidential race to see if the United States is finally ready for a female president.

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