There is victory in every vote

The political process can be painfully slow, except in October and early November. All aspects of the process are on an election bullet train, like tonight’s deadline for voter registration for the Nov. 6 election. Midnight is the cut-off.

However, some people have turned their backs on the entire process and won’t  bother to vote. “After all,” they ask rhetorically, “does it really make a difference?”

Yes it does, according to the continued efforts of Rock the Vote and newer efforts from Courage Campaign and MoveOn. They even supply voter guides for the propositions based on the polling of their members. Both sides of each race are adamant that now is the best time to re-engage in the political process. We are appealed to as taxpayers, parents, educators, employers and students.

Is that enough to attract new voters and re-engage disillusioned ones? Why is it necessary to charm people in to voting?

A long time ago, some citizens believed that because voting had such influence over the direction of our country, it should not be kept by a privileged demographic. So, the battle for the right to vote for all citizens began.

Then came the 15th Amendment to the Constitution of 1870, which states that the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

Even so, there were still some set backs. “Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans,” according to the Library of Congress. The other issue with the 15th Amendment was that it was never intended to include women.

It wasn’t until 1911 that women won the right to vote, but only in California. Finally, the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, “giving women the right to vote after a 72-year struggle,” according to the League of Women Voters.

Unfortunately, “the promise of the 15th Amendment would not be fully realized for almost a century,” according to the Library of Congress. “It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote.”

It sounds bizarre when I say it out loud, but the right of all citizens to vote was not fully nor effectively recognized by the federal government until as recently as 47 years ago.

Had it not been for those pioneering citizens long ago many of us might still be denied our vote. Will you make the deadline and celebrate the victory in being able to vote?

F. E. Cornejo



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