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Huffington Post: Will Working Moms Show Up on Election Day?

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By Candice Burns | 11/01/14


Kasey Nalls, having just put in a 4 p.m. - 2 a.m. overnight shift, steals a few winks before she's back up at 6 a.m. She pushes aside her own fatigue to rouse her two kids - 10 and 14 - from their beds, get them fed and off to school.

She typically works about 70 hours a week, including 30 hours of overtime, so she can afford the essentials -- rent, gas and groceries -- and the extras -- Catholic school tuition for her daughter, a PlayStation 4 for her son.


So, how is she going to find time to show up for Tuesday's midterm elections? The Merrillville, Indiana working mom simply says, "I'm going to vote. But with so much on my plate, my time is limited. I work overtime so I can give my kids what they need and deserve. Any time I have off, I spend with my kids or running errands to keep my household afloat."


Kasey is part of a coveted female swing-voter demographic in this year's midterms. Yet with just a few days remaining until Election Day, are working moms too weary juggling demands of work and family to give Democrats the margin of votes needed to hold a Senate majority?


Wherever you call home - maybe it's Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, Colorado, Iowa or Kansas- all tight battlegrounds in the race for the Senate - the worries of working moms are the same.


My child is sick, but I can't afford to take off from work.


I want to attend my son's soccer game, but I need overtime hours to get by.


Christmas is around the corner. Can I stretch my minimum-wage paycheck to buy gifts this year?


These weighty, deeply personal concerns are front and center for far too many of the 25.2 million U.S. moms who work outside the home. The good news is working moms - by their sheer numbers - have the power to elect candidates who know their struggles and will do something about them.


Moms just need to show up and vote.


Working moms are the new normal


Today, women make up almost half of U.S. workers and a record 4 in 10 households with children under the age of 18 include a mom who is the sole or primary breadwinner, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.


Moreover, out of almost 11 million low-income working families in 2012, more than 4 million were headed by working moms - with 65 percent led by African American moms, reports State Policy and Low-Income Working Mothers: Investing for a Better Economic Future.


Most of these women work jobs without health insurance or paid medical and maternity leave. Living on the edge of the economy, they have little patience for congressional gridlock or political left jabs and right hooks.


They're too busy balancing work schedules, long commutes, doctor's appointments, school activities, homework and making sure everyone is fed.


This may explain a recent poll of Walmart moms that found many moms can't recall much about the candidates running for Senate or even why Senate control matters. Instead, they're asking how does politics work for me? Why should I vote?


Moms, your vote counts because you vote with your children and family at heart.


Showing up at the polls or staying home can make the difference between electing a candidate who shares your priorities and sending one to Washington who doesn't.


Take Georgia's razor-tight Senate race. Raising the minimum wage, access to preschool education and ensuring women earn equal pay for equal work dominate the race between Democratic Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn and Republican challenger David Perdue.


In North Carolina, Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and Republican contender Thom Tillis illustrate the sharp political and policy divide around abortion rights, state education funding and federal Medicaid expansion.


And in Louisiana, economically anxious moms are holding Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy accountable for their positions on lowering college student loan rates, increasing stagnant wages and ongoing Hurricane Katrina disaster relief.


I, too, am a mom and a full-time worker. And like millions of moms across America, I wake up every day striving to create a better future for my family. Yes, sometimes motherhood feels like the toughest job you'll ever love. And often, there's just not enough hours in the day. But I'm voting on Election Day because what happens in Washington matters - from the schools our kids attend to the wages we earn to the health and well-being of our families.


Moms, let's make our voices heard. Vote.



Candice Burns is a principal at theGROUP consulting firm. She previously served as a communications director at the Department of Transportation and was then-Sen. Barack Obama's chief media liaison to the African American community during the 2008 campaign. Join Candice on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @CandiceTBurns