Reflection by Mary E. Latela, March 3, 2016
For several decades, voting in most states was limited to white male landowners, called freeholders. Gradually, the franchise, or right to vote, expanded to include non-landowners, then African-American men, then women, and eventually people as young as 18. The process had its twists and turns; it was far from a straight line of ever-expanding voting rights. And it involved the federal government taking a larger role in defining who made up the electorate, or people who could vote. This series traces that complicated process.
You and I, and all adult citizens have the right to vote in an election in the United States. Yes, we need to register to vote, but with proper ID, we have the privilege, the responsibility, and the right to make our voice heard with one vote.
I read about a man who was trying to control his wife. He took away her car keys and her money. Imagine if you made it to the polls, had cast your one vote, had gone home to view the never-ending TV round-up. Then you learned that some of the rich and powerful did not like the way the totals were coming out. They decided to pressure the winning candidate to get out of the running. Preposterous, you say!
And yet, stealing a vote is one of the worst offenses against an individual. It involves stealing her right to make a statement about an issue, a leader, a candidate. It is like ripping up all the ballots you don’t like, causing them to evaporate, and doing this in full view of the whole community.
Righteous anger is appropriate. People died for the franchise. People fought revolutions, freed persons who were enslaved, gave women the dignity to speak for themselves, and the struggle was not easy.
Do not dare to infringe on my rights, our rights, our system of government. One person – one vote. Your vote is not worth more nor less than mine. Be alert!