Well, here we are, 10 days before yet another Presidential election and this one is gonna be close. History has taught us a lot about close elections including the unprecedented decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Bush v. Gore (2000) – who would have thought that the Judicial Branch would decide who our President is, not the people? The decision brings into question our entire election process and since 2000, scholars and voters have asked their Congressmen and Senators to take another look at the Electoral College and how we elect our leaders. Here we are, though, 12 years later, facing another election in which popular vote may or may not matter.
History of the vote or suffrage in the United States fascinates me. Voting rights are part of the Constitution for all citizens, naturalized or otherwise. But it was not until 1870 that blacks received the right to vote under the 15th Amendment. And even later than that, in 1920, 92 years ago, women received the right to vote.
Today, only about half of the eligible citizens in America turn out to vote, which is generally the lowest among all the democratic nations of the world, but in 2008, voter turnout broke all records at 130 million people voting compared to 1960 (Kennedy won) when 122.3 million voters voted. (reference: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1108/15306.html) If you look at a historical voter turn out chart (reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout_in_the_United_States_presidential_elections), it is sad how few people turn out to actually vote or in today’s world, send in their ballots. Why is that?
Have you voted yet? WHY DO YOU VOTE? I would love to hear your opinions on why you vote… (please no political discussions this time- just talk about suffrage and what is it that makes you keep coming back to vote- or alternately, why do you abstain from voting?)
And by the way, it is okay to admit you do not vote or don’t care. When I met my husband almost 10 years ago, he did not vote- he said, “my vote doesn’t matter really.” I disagreed with him, and since I met him, he has voted in every Presidential/Congressional election. This year he said to me, “wow, I have never watched all the debates, but this is the first time” and from them spawned some fascinating discussions about the pros and cons of each of the candidates and the entire political process.
Why do I vote? I vote because I think that is the greatest right I have and if I do not exercise it, I have no standing to complain about that which is going on around me that I did nothing about. Voting for local candidates, state candidates and ballot measures, for Senate, for Congress and for the Office of the President is the greatest right I have and even while I may hate the electoral process -namely, a representative democracy, I vote because it is a freedom guaranteed to me under the Constitution as a law abiding citizen. I cannot imagine a greater exercise of that which people fought for me to get – a U.S. born woman & citizen of immigrant parents, I vote because it is just something I cannot take for granted- ever!
Please share why you vote.