The Right To Vote
Our right to
vote is among the most important things we can do. Josef
Stalin said “It doesn’t matter that people can vote, what
does matter is who counts the vote.” While we can be
thankful to not have a ruthless dictator in charge in
countries where voting is held, the point is accurate
that without an accurate assessment of the ballots our
right to vote means much less.
America mattered greatly as a measure of
acceptance. For many years men were the only ones to vote, and
not all men! Asian Americans, Chinese Americans and Filipinos
had long been restricted in citizenship and voting. African
Americans like many others were denied the right to cast their
votes until 1965. Although they could register to vote
following the Amendments added after the Civil War, only a
small number signed up due to violence and fears for safety at
the polling places. Native Americans also had battles winning
favor to vote.
In 1848 women began the battle to be able to
vote and one of those women, Charlotte Woodwood, was in that
long battle and cast her vote at 81 years old that first year
that she could. Women were jailed and sent to prison, bread and
water the ration. Alice Paul complete 7 months of this, which
included a hunger strike for which she was sent to the
psychiatric ward and threatened with transfer to an insane
asylum. She was force fed three times per day. Her crime was
picketing in front of the White House in 1917 to be allowed to
vote. A year earlier Montana woman Jeannette Rankin became the first
woman elected to Congress, but she couldn’t vote in many
elections! In 1920 Tennessee ratified the
women the right to vote.
Wyoming led the way in 1890 in allowing women
to vote with Colorado following three years later by vote of
Until 1920 women were not
entitled to vote nationally.
were used to keep some people from voting. Some of the
tactics included poll taxes while others used literacy
tests and intimidation to keep some from voting and in
1965 the passage of the Voting Right Act insured all
Americans had the right to vote without
As late as 1971 one had to be 21 to vote.
With the Vietnam War raging 18 year olds were drafted to serve
and sent to war but could not vote in the American elections.
The 26th Amendment
lowered the voting age from 21 to
In 2005 the Voting Right Act was used
in Mississippi in charges that black officials were
discriminating against white voters.
battle for the ability to vote in these groups and the
solemn privilege that it is to be able to cast one’s vote
is part of why as Americans many are concerned about
maintaining that accuracy in the voting process. It is
something that many, especially those of groups who
weren’t always entitled to vote and have that right now
because of many who stood up and demanded their right to
be counted not just from a voting standpoint but as human
beings living in the United State of America with an
interest in exercising the right that many struggled for.
Be it gender, skin color or age, much has changed since
the first white male Americans began voting in a growing
Even America’s very existence was decided by vote after
the original 13 colonies voted on July 4 1776 in support of the
Declaration of Independence from England.
In this very important vote Pennsylvania and South Carolina voted ‘no’ while
New York abstained and Delaware was
With a long history of struggles
underscoring the importance of voting it is little wonder
that the act of voting can generate the same
disagreements, controversy and opinions that American
voters have always had – standing up for their views and
opinions but sticking with the rest of our