Vote: Responsibility or Right?

The American flag flies proudly in front of the house.

Today is Election Day in the United States. It is always the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November and the day has been set by Congress dating back to the early days of our republic. The reasoning for the day is to keep from having Election Day on November 1st, All Saints Day, a religious holiday. Though the observance of All Saints day has changed since the eighteenth century, it is still observed and I am not really sure if we would want to vote on the day following Halloween.

I have not voted yet, but I plan to vote later this afternoon. I will go home pick up William and Olivia and take them with me; it is important for them to see the process. It is important to vote and have my voice heard and I believe voting is a responsibility I take very seriously, though others will argue it is a right. The right is guaranteed by the Constitution since its adoption in 1787. The federal government began official operation in 1789 when George Washington was sworn in as our first president. At that time only white men had the right to vote and since then we have added voters to the voter rolls. The first group to be added was former African-American slaves with the Fifteenth Amendment adopted in 1870. Though full voting rights were not truly granted until well into the twentieth century. The next group of voters added to voter rolls were women with adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. The final group added to voter rolls were 18-21 year olds who could serve in the military and defend our freedoms, but could not vote for those who would send them and they were added with the adoption of Twenty-sixth Amendment in 1971.

Today, 223 years after the Constitution was adopted we have universal voting rights for citizens over the age of eighteen. Sadly, many do not exercise this right for a variety of reasons. In the Illinois primary election this winter (February 2010) only 23% of registered voters came to the polls to have their vote counted.  Unfortunately, there were good candidates who did not win election because of the turn out.

Scott Stantis' editorial cartoon - Chicago Tribune Nov. 2, 2010

Before parent conferences began today, I skimmed the morning paper and checked my favorite features: Stantis’ political cartoon and his comic strip. Both have poignant messages and implore voters to get out and vote.

Whether you agree with me that voting is a responsibility or you don’t; today is YOUR CHANCE TO MAKE THE DAY COUNT. I plan to Make the Day Count by casting my ballot later today, will you be heard? VOTE and Make this One Day count for you and the future of the United States of America.

Scott Stantis cartoon, "Prickly City" from Chicago Tribune on Election Day 2010, Nov. 2, 2010

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