It is going to be a unique and busy election year! Not only are there federal, state, and county elections, but Longview has a three-candidate race for city council district 3. Now is not the time to languish in apathy on the couch: now is the time to Vote and Let Your Voice Be Heard!
“A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” Edward R. Murrow
Voting has not always been a civil right for all US Citizens. Throughout US history, people have fought and died for these rights. The Revolutionary war made us an independent nation governing ourselves, though not everyone had the privilege to vote. The 14th Amendment provided for all persons born within the U.S. are citizens and guaranteed rights and privileges (1868). The 15th amendment provided that no citizen be denied the right to vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude (1870). The 19th Amendment provided that no citizen shall be abridged of their right to vote based on sex (1920). The Indian citizenship Act of 1924 declared all non-citizen Native Americans born in the U.S.A. to be citizens with the right to vote. The 24th Amendment provided that no poll tax is allowed or failure to pay any other tax shall prevent a person from voting (1964). The 26th Amendment provided all persons 18 or older shall not be abridged of their right to vote (1971). It has been a long, hard journey, but how privileged are we that we are able to change the course of our leadership and country by the peaceful impact of voting our choice and opinion rather than by military coup or force. We continue our peaceful transition of power.
Yet with all this hard work to attain these rights, the U.S. still trails most developed countries in voter turnout.
“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President of the United States
You have the right and you have a voice. Voting gives you a voice in government. The popular tendency to express oneself through social media does not change law or leadership; only your vote has that power. Women, underrepresented groups and young people fought hard for this right. Even today there are countries where people still fight for this right.
• Do you want to have elected officials in office who represent your needs and concerns? Vote.
• Candidates make determinations for funding. Vote for those who support causes important to you.
• “The millennial generation (consisting of 80 million people and growing) is lazy!” Fight the stereotype – vote.
• Our government is designed on citizen participation – if you do not vote, someone else will make these decisions for you. How independent is that?
• Elected officials decide how to spend your hard earned tax money. Vote for those who you agree with their point of view.
• Do you want to change education? Vote for local and state school board members who set public education policy and budgets.
• Do you need a good job? Think pay equity, fairness in hiring, and workplace safety. Vote.
• Crime prevention, laws and enforcement, safe and affordable housing, transportation, schools, parks and recreation and the Comprehensive Plan. Vote for the betterment of your community.
• Check your registration status. www.VoteTexas.gov allows you to check to see if you are registered. • Encourage your friends and neighbors to vote. • Research the candidates to make an informed decision. Do not rely on social media to fill the knowledge void. • Research the candidates and the issues and listen to both sides of an argument. Watch the debates, review candidate web sites, review voting guides, review the League of Women Voters guide, and state legislators’ web sites for those in office. Become better informed in order to make an educated decision on your positions and how you choose to vote.
• Find your polling location ahead of time. Check at the county web site or the state web site.
• Vote Early. Take advantage of early voting. Life happens and last minute issues can impede voting on the actual Election Day.
Voting is important to your future. Understanding some of the history, the reasons why and how you can get involved will empower you to vote and persuade others to engage in their civic rights. Ultimately, Your Vote Matters.