Liberty Lifestyle: Why Your Vote Matters!

Today is Election Day! A day where every American can cast their voice for the direction they would like to see the country move towards. The 2020 presidential election had the highest voter turnout of the 21st century, with 66.8% of citizens 18 years and older voting in the election, according to new voting and registration tables released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

It’s so important to get out to vote today for several reasons:

-We live in a democracy and democracies can’t function unless we all participate.
-Our military fights for our freedom every day, so that we remain a democracy and can live in liberty.
-Our country did not always extend voter rights to everyone, it’s important to uphold your duty!

So we cast our vote to honor our fellow Americans of the past who fought for our right to vote. There are so many reasons to cast your vote today and it all began with our Founding Fathers.

In 1776, The Declaration of Independence was signed, establishing the United States of America as a democratic nation. However, the right to vote was restricted to property owners who were mostly white Protestant men over the age of 21. States initially allowed only a select few to cast a ballot, enacting property, tax, religion, gender, and race requirements. In the first presidential election (1789), voters were almost all landowning white Protestant males. Movements to end various restrictions were subsequently mounted. In 1792 New Hampshire became the first state to remove its landowning requirement, though it took until 1856 for the last state (North Carolina) to drop property demands for white men. And while the Constitution decreed that no officeholder should be subjected to a religion test, various states continued to require one for voting until 1828, when Maryland allowed Jews to enter the ballot booth. By the 1860s white males largely enjoyed universal suffrage in the U.S.

In 1868, The 14th Amendment grants all persons born or naturalized in the United States, including formerly enslaved people, citizenship. After slavery ended, a campaign was launched to secure voting rights for African American men. This was seemingly fulfilled with the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, which guaranteed the right to vote to all men, regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

By the early 20th Century, the woman suffrage movement in the U.S. began and in 1920, the 19th Amendment is passed, granting white women the right to vote. In the ensuing decades, other groups—such as Native Americans (1957)—gained universal suffrage. For African Americans, however, their vote continued to be suppressed. By the mid-1960s fewer than 7 percent of blacks were registered to vote in Mississippi. With the civil rights movement, efforts were renewed to enforce the rights of African American voters. In 1964 the Twenty-fourth Amendment was adopted, prohibiting poll taxes in federal elections. The following year the Voting Rights Act was signed. The landmark legislation banned any effort to deny voting rights, such as literacy tests. In addition, Section 5 of the act provided for federal approval of proposed changes to voting laws or procedures in jurisdictions that had been deemed by a formula set forth in Section 4 to have practiced racial discrimination.

Voting Timeline

1776: Only Property Owners Can Vote
1787: States Determine Who Can Vote
1856: All White Men Can Vote
1868: Formerly Enslaved People Granted Citizenship
The 14th Amendment grants all persons born or naturalized in the United States, including formerly enslaved people, citizenship. Voters are strictly identified solely as males.
1870: Government Cannot Deny the Right to Vote Based on Race
1876: Indigenous People Cannot Vote
The Supreme Court rules that Indigenous people are not citizens and therefore ineligible to vote.
1882: Chinese Immigrants Cannot Vote
The Chinese Exclusion Act denies people of Chinese ancestry the ability to become naturalized citizens, making them ineligible to vote.
1920: White Women Are Granted the Right to Vote
1952: Asians Are Granted Voting Rights
1965: Voting Rights Act of 1965
1971: Voting Age Is Lowered to 18
1975: Voting Materials Available in Multiple Languages
2000: Residents of U.S. Colonies Cannot Vote
A federal court determines that Puerto Ricans cannot vote in presidential elections despite being U.S. citizens.
2001: National Debate on Voting Rights for Returning Citizens
The National Commission on Federal Election Reform recommends that all states grant returning citizens the right to vote after completion of their criminal sentences.

To vote, is to honor our ancestors fight for freedom and our duty to keep it alive! It’s to honor those, in our military, that protect it everyday. And it’s to honor the great country we live in…the United States of America! Go vote today!

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