Throughout history, many have sacrificed and fought for the right to vote. A right that many people in our world, still are not able to enjoy. As Americans, we often take this right for granted. Many cannot remember a time that voting was not handed to us on a silver-platter rather than something fought for and achieved through blood and perseverance . President Lincoln in his Gettysburg address called democracy “government of the people, by the people and for the people.” We have the freedom to elect the men and women we choose to represent us. We have one of the greatest rights of a free people, the right to vote. So why is it that so many in this great nation choose not to vote? In 2004 barely more than 60% of the American population came out to vote. When so few of our population votes, the minority of a population can determine a nation's future.
Texas has two weeks of early voting, and in order to avoid long lines, Kyle and I voted last week. It is easy to feel that our vote does not count, it is one vote in millions. But your vote does count. Not only does it affirm our right as a free people to elect our leaders and take part in democracy, it sends out a message about the issues that you think are important. The election of 1960, one which has many similarities to the one today, was the closest race in our country's history. After all was said and done, the votes tallied, Kennedy earned 49.7% of the popular vote to Nixon's 49.5%. There was only a difference of 100,000 more votes for Kennedy than Nixon out of over 68 million votes cast.
Although I am passionate about the man for which I wish to lead the country, and for whom I voted (and some of you may or may not agree with my opinion) this post is not about who you should vote for. Instead this post is about exercising your right to vote. It is something we as Americans and as a nation should all value deeply. Vote because you care about your community. Vote because you care about your world and what it will look like 50 years from now. Vote for your children or the children you one day might have. Vote because you have a voice. Vote because you believe in free government. Vote because it is the right thing to do.
Here are some fun facts about voting!
History of Voting
Ancient Greece- They had one of the earliest forms of voting dating back to 508 B.C. except that their vote was for or against exiling a politician rather than voting to elect a politician to public office.
This info came from: (http://www.flaglerelections.com/kids/history.htm)
1776 When this country announced its independence from Britain, voting rights were based on property ownership. This typically meant that those voting were white males over the age of 21 of Protestant religion.
1787 In the newly drafted Constitution, states were given the power to set voting mandates and most were still favorable to white males who owned property.
1830 Many states had dropped religion and property ownership as requirements for voting and with such a large percentage of the population at the polls, political parties were beginning to develop.
1868 The 14th Amendment recognizes African Americans as citizens, giving them the right to vote. However, state officials continue attempts to deny this right.
1870 African Americans were given the right to vote in the 15th Amendment. It prohibited any state or local government from denying that right.
1890 Wyoming becomes the first state to recognize women's right to vote and provide for it in a state constitution.
1913 Voting power is expanded with 17th Amendment, calling for the popular election of US. senators.
1920 The 19th Amendment was added to the Constitution, giving women across the nation the right to vote. Sufferin' Till Sufferage
1940 Congress recognizes Native Americans as citizens. However, it wasn't until 1947 that all states granted them the right to vote.
1964 The 24th Amendment declares that no person should be denied the right to vote because they cannot pay a "poll tax."
1965 An amendment to the Voting Rights Act bans the use of literacy tests, poll taxes and other obstacles designed to keep people from voting.
1971 The voting age is lowered to 18. (this was changed because the soldiers dying in Vietnam were not eligible to vote for or against the leaders sending them to war)