Let’s talk about politics.
Tomorrow is a very important day: it’s Elections Day. I am sure you’ve noticed that the last couple of years have been a roller coaster ride for American politics. Now, if you haven’t been keeping up with the news, let me remind you that Trump is our President and that your vote still counts!
While 2018 is not a presidential election year, there are a lot of very important decisions we, as a country, need to make. Some of these decisions include:
- 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives
- One-third of all U.S. senators, including here in New Jersey
- Thirty-six state governors and three U.S. territory governors
- Many city mayors
Here in the United States, we have a problem. Voting is a privilege that we take for granted. Right now, over 235 million Americans are eligible to vote, but only 148 million are registered; and if I am calculating right, that’s over 80 million Americans who don’t exercise their right to vote. We must remind ourselves that voting is not just a right; it’s your duty as an American.
Sometimes we forget the past and believe that everything has always been the way it is. To inspire you to vote this year, I want to give you a brief history lesson on voting rights in the United States.
- 1776 – Declaration of Independence – Only white, property-owning, Protestant men could vote.
- 1807 – Women lose the right to vote. Before that, women voted and in large numbers, but their status was unclear.
- 1828 – Religious restrictions are removed. White men can vote regardless of their religion.
- 1848 – The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed, which made Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, and Nevada states. Mexicans in these territories were denied the right to vote.
- 1856 – North Carolina eliminates property-owning requirements, making it the last state to have such requirements.
- 1866 – The First Civil Rights Act was enacted. It states that all persons born in the United States are considered U.S. citizens; not all are afforded the right to vote.
- 1870 – The 15th Amendment, when the right to vote is given to all male citizens, regardless of race, color, or condition of servitude.
- 1882 – The Chinese Exclusion Act: Chinese persons are not allowed to get naturalized.
- 1890 – The Indian Naturalization Act: Native Americans can acquire citizenship.
- 1896 – The Grandfather Clause: No male citizen whose grandparent was declined to vote can vote.
- 1920 – The 19th Amendment: All citizens can vote, regardless of gender.
- 1923 – People of Indian descent cannot apply for citizenship.
- 1924 – Native Americans are now citizens with the right to vote.
- 1943 – The Chinese Exclusion Act is repelled, and people of Chinese descent people can now become citizens.
- 1964 – The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was when discrimination on basis of gender, race, origin, and religion was made illegal, allowing everyone to vote.
- 1971 – The legal age to vote became 18.
- 1990 – The American Disabilities Act is put into place, which ensures that voting places are designed, so people with disabilities can vote.
- 2009 – The Military and Oversees Act is created, allowing troops to vote by mail or electronically.
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Oprah Winfrey delivered a powerful message to attendees of a town hall in support of Georgia gubernatorial candidate #StaceyAbrams: Don’t dishonor your ancestors by failing to vote in the midterm #elections. The media mogul invoked the story of Otis Moss Sr., who had walked 18 miles to vote in an election but was told he was too late to cast a ballot. He died before he was able to finally vote in the next election. “For anybody here who has an ancestor who didn’t have the right to vote and you are choosing not to vote wherever you are in this state, in this country, you are dishonoring your family,” #OprahWinfrey said. // 📸: Getty Images
Now that I have bored you enough with a history lesson, I would love to discuss some of my personal reasons on why you should vote:
- It gives us a sense of control; we have to believe that your vote does make a difference.
- Self-expression: Even if our candidate doesn’t win, we can voice our opinion. As humans, we have the need to express ourselves and believe that we have been heard.
- This country went through a lot just to get us where we are. Remember that only white property-owning, Protestant men could vote.
Be grateful and go vote!