COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — There are few things that connect most Americans — we all pay taxes, and we all have a civic duty to participate in democracy.
However, voting hasn’t always and still isn’t the most accessible for some people.
“The way I kind stay mentally healthy while doing this work, is constantly being reminded of the work that came before me and the work that's going to come after me,“ said Kristina Samuel, senior biology major, and President of MOVE Texas at Texas A&M.
After nearly a century of protesting and fighting for their rights, women convinced lawmakers at the time to ratify the 19th Amendment.
Texas was the first southern state to acknowledge the change.
“Texas was kind of progressive in a way,” admitted Elaine Wiant, the treasurer at The Texas League of Women Voters.
Taking a look back at the roaring ‘20s, it was a colorful time full of fancy outfits, feathers and flappers.
More people were moving into cities and leaving the farm life behind — all as the country itself grew wealthier.
This all came as the first World War drew to a close.
Men were returning home, yet women still on American soil were fighting for their right to vote.
“The 1916 Democratic National Convention was in St. Louis that year,” Wiant said.
“Women from all over the country came to advocate for getting a plank in the Democratic platform for women's suffrage.”
This fight was nothing new.
Women had been advocating for equal opportunities to vote since before the Civil War.
“The notion of what's womanly has certainly changed,” said Wiant.
It wasn’t until 1920 when their voices were heard, and pen met paper; the19th Amendment was ratified in the U.S. Constitution.
“It was amazing,” Wiant said.
“Every woman today is benefiting from their efforts,” Samuel said as she thought back to those who fought so hard for their and her rights.
Now, over 100 years later, young women like Samuel are continuing the fight for equal elections.
“I can only hope that the work we do can contribute to that effort.”
As a driving force, Samuel led a charge of students and community members when the on-campus polling location at Texas A&M was removed for early voting in a recent election.
“I was just taking calls in the middle of classes, with reporters, with lawyers, with politicians,” she explained as she recalled the weeks before election day.
Now, she’s committed to making a change in this community.
“I have a lot of faith in my generation,” she began, with a smile.
As she continues to create a blueprint, making easier access for women, especially women of color she says, to partake in democracy.
My hope for the future is those people who want to do good, who are with the right intentions, are given the resources and support, and that they’re heard,” she ended.
Samuel is going to Austin at the end of March to lobby and meet with lawmakers.
Some of which are considering bills like banning polling places on college campuses, like HB 2390.
It was proposed by Texas Rep. Carrie Isaac, a republican representing District 73.
Isaac says she proposed this bill after Uvalde and the stabbing on UT Austin’s campus.
She explained that safety was at the forefront of her mind when introducing this.
However, some people, like Samuel, say that shouldn’t be all that this decision is based on.
“We need another reason than school safety,” Samuel said.
“Because school safety, as we know, is due to a lot of factors. It's a highly controversial topic, but we know polling locations have nothing to do with them.”
It’s estimated that nearly half of young voters cast a ballot in the 2020 election.
That’s an 11-point increase from 2016, according to a Tufts study.