Today is Election Day across America. (Midterm elections, that is.) It is the time to cast our vote and exercise our right of suffrage. The right to vote is a fundamental right guaranteed to us by/in the U.S. Constitution, with Congress having the sole power to enforce this right by appropriate legislation/s.
Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified July 9, 1868, mentioned about the right to vote. At that time, only twenty-one year old male persons born or naturalized in the United States and the State wherein they reside, with the exception of those who participate in rebellion or other crime, can participate in any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State.
With the birth of women’s suffrage movement, that started by Lydia Taft of Massachusetts in 1756, and subsequently by other well-known female suffrage advocates and activists such as Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, and Susan B. Anthony, the right to vote for women gained momentum. Governor John Allen Campbell of the Wyoming Territory was the first governor to approve the first U.S. law granting women the right to vote on December 10, 1869. Other states, like Idaho, Utah and Colorado, followed suit. Eventually, on June 4, 1920, Congress approved, and ratified by some states, The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which prohibited state or federal sex-based restrictions on voting.
The Fifteenth Amendment, ratified on February 3, 1870 by the U.S. Congress, 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.
The Twenty-Fourth Amendment, ratified January 23, 1964, states that the right of the citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
The Twenty-Sixth Amendment, ratified July 1, 1971, states that the right of citizens of the United States who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
There we have it, in the Supreme Law of the Land, the proof that guarantees our right to vote.
Let’s not take our right to vote for granted. We, the people, have the power to effect change and reforms in our government. Our right to vote cannot be denied. Hence, we have to exercise this right, the right to elect who will serve, lead and represent us.
With our vote, we can make a difference not only for ourselves but for others. With our vote, we are empowered to make our city, community, country better.
On this Election Day, let us rise to the occasion and cast our vote to the best candidate who, we believe, can deliver our interests---sound fiscal responsibility and accountability, better schools achievement, economic job opportunities, better health services for all people, law and order, equality, education, and empowerment for all citizens.
Our vote is our voice, a powerful voice that can make or unmake a candidate or politician a public servant. Our vote can unseat an incumbent who does not meet our expectations. Our vote can install into public office a newcomer or challenger who is ready to work for us with his or her zeal and passion to serve the public. Our vote determines what our future city, community, country be, with the best possible candidate we elect.
Let’s get out, go to the polls, and vote today! Don’t let this once-in-a-while civic event pass. Who knows, we might meet/encounter an old or new friend at the polling place.
Our vote counts! Let’s give the Board of Elections Committee, election registrars and his or her team the opportunity to count and tabulate our votes.
-Chris A. Quilpa is a retired U.S. Navy veteran who currently lives in Suffolk. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org