Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The Right to Vote

I continue to be amazed at the number of people who do not exercise their right to vote.

As citizens of the United States of America, we are unique in the annals of world history in that we are a nation which empowers the populace to determine who shall be their leaders. As a free people, we have the right to be involved in the process of who governs us as “we the people.”

Following the Revolutionary War, also referred to as the War for Independence, our founding fathers determined that we the people needed to have sound principles recorded in documents outlining the rights each person would have as a citizen of America.

It has been said that the most important right we have is the right to vote. Why? Because this is the sole means by which we can insure our freedoms. All the other rights stem from the right to vote.

In the course of our nation’s history, there have been struggles to insure that this right is enjoyed by all citizens.

There have been four changes to the right to vote. First, because of the Civil War and the subsequent abolishment of slavery, the opportunity to vote was now accorded to those previously left out of the process. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” — Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1870).

Second, the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote; finally eliminating the gender biased voting system originally established. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” — Nineteenth Amendment (1920).

Third, it was determined that citizens should not have to pay to vote. This “poll tax” was now illegal. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election . . . shall not be denied or abridged . . . by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.” — Twenty-fourth Amendment (1964).

And fourth, there was the change enacted that lowered the age a person could vote. “The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of age.” — Twenty-sixth Amendment (1971).

We would do well to remember that many of our military members down through the years have fought and died so you and I could continue to live as a free people, exercising one of the greatest gifts offered to man – the right to determine who will be our leaders.

If you have moved recently, or turned eighteen, or have become a naturalized citizen, contact your Registrar of Voters. For those in the County of San Joaquin, use the following information: Debbie Hench, Registrar of Voters, 212 North San Joaquin Street, Stockton, CA 95201, P O Box 810, Stockton, CA 95201-0810, (209) 468-2890, (209) 468-2889 Fax, Hours 8:00am - 5:00pm, E-mail:
mailto:www.co.san-joaquin.ca.us/elect/contact.htm, Website: http://www.co.san-joaquin.ca.us/elect/.

Let your voice be heard. Exercise your right to vote. Do it today!

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