With everything you see on the news lately, there is one message reporters are failing to
mention — why it is so important to vote. It’s not as an exciting topic as Ebola, or ISIS, which
brings a sense of drama to our ordinary, everyday lives. Voting is boring, no one cares, my vote
doesn’t count, are some of the excuses for lack of people voting. Perhaps attention needs to be
brought as to why voting is so important.
This nation, which was founded in 1776, did not allow for everyone to vote at its
inception. Originally, only white, male, landowners were allowed to vote. It was not until 1870,
that all male citizens, “regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” That leaves
out women, who were finally given the right to vote in 1920.
It was not until 1964 that the poll tax was removed from elections, and in 1965 the
Voting Rights Acts were passed. Finally In 1971, every citizen, over the age of 18 was granted
the right to vote.
Everyone thinks that since all of those changes were made, they now have the right to
vote, but that is not the case. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 had certain provisions in place
to protect citizens’ right to vote. However, in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a crucial
portion of the Act, which made certain states request permission from the federal government, in
order to make any changes to elections.
Why is that so important? Because that portion was eliminated, states that were formerly
prohibited from making last minute changes, are now doing so, in many states. In North
Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Arkansas, voters are trying to keep track of the changes happening,
and Supreme Court decisions that may apply to them. Right now, while some states were
already supposed to begin early voting, they are still waiting for a decision.
Voting affects every area of your life. As a student, representatives on every level affect
education, from funding to curricula. As a citizen, voting affects the environment, health care,
taxes, food, housing standards, natural disaster relief, and the list goes on. But most importantly,
voting affects who is going to represent you, on all levels of government.
Why is it important to know who represents you, and how they vote on legislation?
Because, as Congress continues to dig their heels in, and do reach across the aisle, it is you who
suffers. Imagine you went to work and did nothing, but take vacations. Would you keep your
job? No, and neither should our representatives. Check on what your representatives have done,
and vote, based on their work. Keep them or give them the pink slip.
This midterm election, we are also voting for Governor. Currently, as a Florida resident,
you already need to be registered to vote, and you must have a voter ID card along with a
government issued ID card with matching names in order to vote. Early voting hours have been
cut. What are you going to do about it? Vote.