The pantsuit was a given. But as Election Day approached, and as her mother-daughter-bonding plans evolved, Jayne Herring couldn’t help but add elements: For her daughter, a white dress over comfy sweats and rain boots, to honor the color of choice of the suffragette moment. For them both, white pearls and cloche hats. And finally, matching sashes in purple, white, and gold, the officials colors of the National Women’s Party.
“We already had the hats and pearls,” Herring said outside the Dallas high school where she voted Tuesday afternoon. She was looking down at her daughter, 8-year-old Inara, who was holding Mom’s hand, swinging and fidgeting. “If we were going to do this, we were going to do it right.”
A mother of two girls, Herring joined moms from across Dallas and beyond who rearranged schedules, and outfits, to make sure their daughters could experience a historic Election Day. Though their vote in still-red Texas won’t likely sway the election, they hoped it would reinforce for their daughters what it means to be a Texas women.
Betsy Healy, a lawyer and nonprofit executive, said as a Texas girl she looked up to iconic governor Anne Richards. But to her 9-year-old daughter, she said, Texas is a state governed largely by men who have made political careers of slashing funding for women’s health care, among other anti-feminist policies. She said she brought her daughter along during the early voting period to show her what it looked like to fight back.
“You have to engage,” she said. “You can’t just be horrified.”
Healy’s daughter happened into an extra lesson in democracy: As they walked into the Dallas church to vote that morning, Healy noticed two black SUVS, then two men in dark suits with earpieces. Then she noticed an older gentleman filing at one of the booths in the otherwise empty polling place. She whispered to her daughter: “That’s George W. Bush. He’s a former president.”
Bush, who lives in Dallas, didn’t cast the groundbreaking vote that Healy hoped he would, choosing to vote for neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump, his spokesman said. But after casting his ballot, Bush made sure to shake Healy’s daughter’s hand. “Im happy to see you here today,” he told the little girl. (Bush’s spokesman confirmed that he voted when and where Healy did.)
For the younger Healy, it was epic. “I think I’m famous,” she told her mom afterward.
But it would be hard to top the day Jayne and Inara Herring had on Election Day. Worried about long wait times, Jayne pulled Inara out of school early, breezed into the polling place, and kept her daughter close as she cast her vote for Clinton. “To pay homage,” Herring said, “to all the amazing women who paved the way.”
Later, they would go home and watch the results come in, and maybe even stay up late to see how it ends. “Depends how it’s going,” Mom said. First, though, to cap off a historic afternoon, they went for fro-yo: green tea-flavored, with strawberry shortcake toppings. They did not take off their sashes.