It is here. It’s been a long and painful four years under President Obama, and the day has arrived where Americans all across the country will go out to the polls and exercise their constitutional rights. But how much do you really know about the history of what you’ll be doing? And do you take it for granted? Take it from a more-than-politically-literate 16 year old – you better appreciate the fact that you’ll be able to stand in front of a small, automated machine and cast your ballot today.
I unfortunately will not be able to vote this go-around because of my age. However, this doesn’t stop me from realizing the significance of something that many in this country take for granted.
Not everyone in the world is lucky as we are here in America. In some countries around the world, people are not able to participate in a free and fair election (and in some cases, even an election itself.) We are lucky, and we must cherish this small, yet powerful, right that we have so wholeheartedly extended throughout the history of our country.
We love our rights, our liberty, and our freedom; and we love to exercise those rights. Arguably, we hold the right to vote closest and most dear to our heart. Since the passing of the Bill of Rights in 1791, we have added only 17 amendments. Of those 17, six of them have been used to expand the right of the people to simply cast their ballot.
- Amendment 15 – 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.
- Amendment 17 – The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislatures.
- Amendment 19 – 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.
- Amendment 23 - The District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct: A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a state, but in no event more than the least populous state; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the states, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a state; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
- Amendment 24 – The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
- Amendment 26 - The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.
When you go to the polls today to cast your ballot, please remember these amendments, especially if you are someone who falls within the boundaries of these amendments. Maybe if we didn’t hold the right to vote so near and dear, some of these amendments would have never been passed; and thus, some of us might not be able to cast a vote today.
I hope we all now have a greater understanding and appreciation for something that is so simple, yet so powerful.
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