I Waited 96 Years! is a website that celebrates, in words and pictures, the ballot-casting joy of women born before the 19th Amendment was ratified. The site is full of wonderful images of beaming white-haired women, many clutching write-in voting instructions, some with nasal cannulas helping them breathe, others raising triumphant fists and glasses of champagne. So far over 25 states are represented, with new entries coming in every day. There are little biographical entries of each voter—such varied lives they’ve led!—and a quote. “My mother was a suffragette,” says Velva Stone, 103, of Escondido, CA. “She instilled in all of her daughters…a love for democracy and a need to participate in society — to contribute. I have voted in every election since I became eligible and I am so proud to be able to vote for a woman for president!”

Said Roselyn Kraus, 99, from
Skokie, IL: “For the first time in my life I voted early to make sure my vote counts. I couldn’t feel more strongly the urgency of electing Hillary; she is eminently qualified.”

The site was created two weeks ago by Sarah Bunin Benor, a professor of contemporary Jewish studies at Hebrew Union College; her mother, Roberta Schultz Benor, a parenting instructor and director of a senior citizen apartment building; and Sarah’s friend, Tom Fields-Meyer, a writer and writing teacher. It was inspired by Sarah’s grandmother, Estelle Liebow Schultz (the first woman pictured on site’s home page), who is not active on social media but who knows her granddaughter is. “Take my picture for Sarah to share on Facebook!” she said as she was voting for Hillary Clinton via absentee ballot. Roberta did, and the photo got 1,600 likes within a couple of days.

“People’s comments were so heartfelt,” Benor said in an interview. “I realized it had touched a nerve. Then at Yom Kippur services, my friend Tom suggested that this could be a bigger project. I thought, ‘Yes! Binders Full of Nonagenarian Women for Hillary!’ By Erev Sukkot the site was up.”

Estelle, 98, who cast her first vote in 1940 for FDR, hasn’t missed a presidential primary or election since. The former assistant superintendent of the Compton, CA school district (and like her granddaughter, the possessor of a doctorate), she says she likes Clinton’s education policy proposals. She also feels that Clinton will help the middle class. She cast her ballot from home hospice. “I would like to live long enough to see the election of our first woman president,” she said. “I encourage all of my fellow nonagenarians to follow me in marking your ballot with a sense of pride in a life long-lived and in a country making history.”

Like Estelle, most of the women on the site are Jewish, reflecting not only the left-leaning political proclivities of Jews but also the makeup of Benor and Schultz’s friends and their parents and grandparents. But Benor and crew are working to diversify the site. “We’ve done a lot of work to reach out beyond our circle,” she said. “We’re trying to reach more women of color, talking to historically black colleges and sororities.”

Said Glady Burrill, 97, from
Honolulu, HI: ““This election is about hope, optimism, respect and qualifications. Hillary has them all. From one strong woman to another.”

Clicking through the voters is a delight. Juliet Bernstein, 103, of Chatham, MA , is a former teacher, peace activist, and president of her local League of Women Voters chapter who says, “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. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to vote for Hillary Clinton and determined to see her inauguration!”

Katherine Blood Hoffman, 102, of Tallahassee, the former dean of women at FSU, says, “This election means that women can achieve anything. In 1937 I was accepted into the medical school at Duke University. I decided not to attend because female students [unlike men] were required to sign a pledge stating that they would not marry while in school.”

Elizabeth Pula, 97, of New York, NY, wearing a very snazzy silver sequined black sweatshirt with the New York skyline on it, says, “I am happy and proud to cast my vote for the first woman to become President of the United States of America. Also my vote will be cast against a Neanderthal who has never read a book. I would like to receive my 100th birthday card from Hillary’s White House.”

Louise Rucker, 99 of Redwood City, CA, whose parents were immigrants from Guadalajara and Chihuahua (and who is depicted blowing a giant pink bubblegum bubble), says, “I believe that Hillary has a steady, fair mind and she will be a terrific leader. I would like a woman running the country. Also, Trump can kiss my a–. Wait a second, on second thought, I don’t want him near my a–.”

Anne Wainscott, 99, of Covington, KY, was a fashion illustrator for 45 years and drew for Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli. “My generation defeated Hitler,” she says. “I will not see what we have built be destroyed by racism and fear of immigrants. America is too good for that.”

I wondered whether Benor and crew pondered depicting Trump voters as well as those who are exuberantly with Hillary. “We had an interesting conversation about it,” she said. “It hasn’t actually come up because we haven’t gotten any submissions from Trump voters. But ultimately we decided we wouldn’t include them if we did. Because the point of the site is the historic moment of women voting for a woman for president. Someone else can do ‘I Waited 96 Years and I’m Still Voting for a Man!’”

Let’s give the last word to Margaret Thompson, 100, of Stockton, CA, a former high school teacher and community volunteer. “I am voting for her because I want the world to go forward, not back.”

Related: The Grandeur of Hillary Clinton: Untrustworthiness and Social Progress





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