I began this article after doing my civic duty and voting early! This year’s election campaign has been unusually contentious in a divided country, but I have been uplifted by the unprecedented early voting numbers -- over 70 million votes so far; people getting up before dawn to cast their vote, waiting in line for more that 10 hours, with efforts to get out the vote for people of color greater than ever.
I remember the first time my mother got to vote. I don’t remember what election it was, but I know it was after 1965. (Not to say she hadn’t been telling my father how to vote for years!) I remember how excited she and my father were when they came home after voting together for the first time. Although the 19th Amendment gave all citizens the right to vote, obstacles like poll taxes and literacy tests barred many people of color from venturing to the polls. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most important pieces of anti-discrimination legislation ever, lifting many of those obstacles. In my family we were taught that voting was a right, a privilege and a responsibility. Something that I now take for granted was a huge obstacle for my mother and was fought for with blood, sweat and tears, through the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s until today, with social movements meant to bring about change. The history of voter suppression in the US is as old as the country.
When the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, the right to vote was restricted to property owners, most of whom were white male Protestants over 21. Since then there have been about 35 Federal laws or modifications to voter rights, several of them focused on voter suppression for various peoples. This doesn’t even include intimidation tactics, violence, and arbitrary requirements, like literacy, paying poll taxes, removing polling sites and a myriad other tactics. It begs the question, “If my vote doesn’t count why has so much effort been made to keep me from voting?” Why does this country want to keep me from being represented? Keep my voice muted, my choice in elected officials discounted? The fact is, voter suppression still exists. And that concerns me. While my mother finally got the hard-earned ability to vote, and I take that right for granted, I worry for my daughter, for all daughters and sons, that their right to vote will be protected without fear of voter suppression. Because her vote – her representation -- in this democracy counts. Your vote counts. The threat continues, if we do not pay attention, educate ourselves and exercise our right to vote. To help you to educate yourself, I have attached a list of resources including videos and articles for you to take a deeper dive into this topic before you head out to the polls or drop it off at an approved drop box.
My hope is that you will exercise your rights this election day. So remember to VOTE, vote, VoTe, vOtE, vote, vote, Vote, VOTE, vote, VoTe, vOtE, vote, vote, Vote, VOTE, vote, VoTe, Vote, VOTE, vote, VoTe, vOtE, vote, vote, Vote, VOTE, vote, VoTe, VOTE , vOtE