Montana Women Vote was founded in 2000 by women’s organizations that came together in response to the profound lack of support and attention by elected officials for women’s concerns, particularly issues important to low-income women. The coalition realized that the low-income women they served had a very low voter turnout rates (30-40 percent — about half of Montana’s average). This low turnout meant low-income women had little say in electing their representatives and in turn, elected officials felt little accountability to support issues important to them.
Montana Women Vote is dedicated to educating and mobilizing low-income women and their allies to participate in the democratic process as informed voters, policy advocates, and community leaders. After hundreds of hours of talking to women voters by knocking doors, standing outside of grocery stores, and tabling at events, we have found that apathy is not responsible for these low voter turnout rates. Many women do not participate because they have not yet connected how policy affects their daily lives, they often lack the information needed to feel like informed voters or policy advocates, they do not feel welcome to participate, and/or they face logistical challenges to casting their ballot. The good news is that by registering, educating, and mobilizing unlikely women that support real progressive policy change, MWV helps address the root causes of this issue. Since 2000, Montana Women Vote has grown from a shoestring voter registration effort to a statewide organization now made up of both statewide and local member organizations.