Friday, November 4, 2022
A Message from Newsletter Editor Linda Waldbaum
Election Day is less than a week away. Do you plan on casting your vote? What if someone told you that you could not vote or tried to stop you from voting? Would you feel compelled to fight for your right to vote? The United States has a long history of its citizens fighting for suffrage. Did you know that the original Constitution said nothing directly about the right to vote? Eligibility to vote was left up to the states and most states restricted voting to those who owned property. Considering more than half of the population at the time was not able to own property, the majority of the country could not vote.
Since the inception of the U.S. Constitution, there have been six amendments that expanded voting rights. The 14th amendment extended citizenship to all natural born or naturalized Americans, regardless of race. The 15th amendment explicitly stated that voting cannot be restricted based on race. The 17th amendment required states to elect senators by popular vote (ensuring your individual vote counts directly toward one of the three major branches of government). The 19th amendment gave women the right to vote, essentially doubling the number of potential voters. The 24th amendment banned poll taxes and expanded voting rights to all income levels. Lastly, the 26th amendment extended the right to vote to all citizens 18 years of age or older.
Voting is the cornerstone to our democracy and should not be given up nor taken lightly. New York State puts such a heavy emphasis on voter’s rights that our State established early voting, as an option to make voting in every election easier. You no longer have to wait until November 8th to cast your vote - simply go to https://voterlookup.elections.
ny.gov/ to find early voting locations. It is a very dangerous slope when citizens of any country take for granted the right to vote. There are still many countries around the globe where citizens are denied the right to vote in a free and fair election.
Don’t wait for your right to vote to be restricted or taken away before you recognize the power you have in shaping our government. Make sure to cast your vote by November 8th!