Please vote on Nov. 6
Following the American Revolution, white adult males who owned property were the only citizens who enjoyed the right to vote. Among the groups not allowed to vote were African Americans, Native Americans, women, men under age 21 and white male adults who did not own property. There were also religious requirements, which were phased out about 1810.
John Adams resisted broadening the right to vote, arguing that "there will be no end to it. New claims will arise: women will demand the vote; lads from 12 to 21 will think their rights not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to one common level."
By 1850, most white men could vote regardless of wealth; in 1870 voting restrictions based on race, color and status were outlawed (although poll taxes and literacy tests still created barriers); women won the right to vote in 1920 (although Utah women could vote in state elections as early as 1895); Native Americans could vote starting in 1924 and the voting age was lowered to 18 in 1971.
We are pleased when we see people in other countries displaying purple fingers as a sign that they voted in newly formed democracies, but today, a vast number of American citizens do not vote.
Our national pride is grounded upon the notion that we are a nation of and by the people, but that can only be fulfilled by the participation of all citizens and that participation starts with voting. Perhaps rich white men can take the right to vote for granted since that right was granted to them from the beginning of this country. Women and minorities, however, must remember the struggles by those who came before and honor them by voting.
Today the political process has never been more negative and dysfunctional, and political advertising and reporting never more noisy and nonsensical. Nevertheless, we cannot afford to allow it to frustrate us to the point that we no longer participate. We are harmed as a nation every time a citizen elects not to vote and by every voice that is silenced by barriers to voting. Now is the time to strengthen our individual commitment to make our voices heard and to hold our elected officials accountable for both their good and bad acts.
Please vote. Please encourage your friends and family members to vote, even those with whom you disagree. Women, please honor those who fought the fight for women’s suffrage. Vote. People of color, please do not abandon the goals of those who came before you. Vote. My friends and family in the LGBT community, make your voices heard. Vote. Every selection you make in the voting booth is our loud shout about our dreams and desires for our country, our state and our local government and about our expectations of our elected representatives. Your chosen candidate or resolution may not win but your choice will be counted and your voice and opinion will be heard. Please vote.
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