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Sat Oct 20, 2012, 11:00 AM

Vote


Voting is not only a right, it is a responsibility. Thus, when I hear a person say, “I don’t bother to vote, because it doesn’t make any difference,” I know that person is not only ignorant, but also irresponsible. And, in my opinion, they are traitors to democracy. Let me explain.

“Democracy” is not a system provided by the nation-state; it is a process that citizens engage in. It is, by definition, a continuous -- thus constant -- process. The right and responsibility to vote is a significant part of that process. Nothing can make this clearer than to consider the current attempts by members of the republican party to deny groups of people this right, in the context of the historical struggle of various groups to secure the right to vote.

“Voting rights,” and the right to run for office, are defined by both state and federal laws. Thus, where the US Constitution and federal law do not define voter/ candidate eligibility, the various states have the discretion to determine the individual’s rights. And frequently, the individual states have created laws to disenfranchise specific groups of people.

Even after the Revolutionary War, various states disenfranchised not only all non-white male property owners, but groups of white men who owned property. These restrictions, not surprisingly, targeted Catholics, Jews, and Quakers. Officer-holders in Delaware had to take a specific “Christian” oath. South Carolina only allowed Protestants to hold office. And in Maryland, Jewish men would not have voting rights until 1828.

The question of Native American voting rights has always been complicated. It wasn’t until the 1879 Standing Bear trial in Nebraska, that Indians were deemed human beings “within the meaning of law” in the United States. Just how “human” was long a matter of individual state interpretation, of course: up until the mid-1960s, for example, a white man who raped an Indian woman could only be charged with a misdemeanor.

By no coincidence, issues of voting rights began to change in the post-Civil War era. The 14th Amendment (1866) provided citizenship to black people -- in theory, though not often practice, this added 2/5ths to their previous 3/5ths legal status as “humans.” Then, in 1869, the 15th Amendment determined that black citizens could not be denied the right to vote based upon race.

Thus, in the years between 1890 and 1908, ten of the 11 former Confederate states would ratify new constitutions with provisions to disenfranchise potential voters by way of literacy tests and poll taxes. This, of course, provided the added bonus to restricting the rights of poor white men, as well: it targeted specific ethnic groups that had immigrated to the US in recent decades, such as the Irish and Italians.

In 1913, the 17th Amendment allowed for voters to determine who their US Senators would be. Until then, a handful of people in each state selected their Senators.

The right of women to vote cannot be found in Mitt Romney’s binders. The 19th Amendment (1920) provided women with the right to vote. There had been individual states that recognized this right even before 1920: Wyoming had provided for this right in order to be granted statehood. And women could vote in Colorado before 1920; however, women’s votes didn’t count as much as men’s votes.

In 1962, the state of Arizona was still attempting to deny voting rights to non-white citizens with “Operation Eagle Eye,” which enforced literacy tests. And it wasn’t until the US Supreme Court ruled in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections that poll taxes were found to be unconstitutional.

The 2000 presidential election involved the state of Florida’s denying a large number of citizens the right to vote. The vast majority of those disenfranchised were black people. Surprising, right?

In 2002, the Bush-Cheney administration -- installed by the Supreme Court in opposition to the actual 2000 election results -- would pass the Help Americans Vote Act (HAVA). In 2004, the Bush vs. Kerry election would be determined by voter suppression in Ohio.

Only 14 states do not require a mailing address to register to vote. In the others, those who are homeless (or frequently move, due to low income) are disenfranchised. Residents of Washington, DC, have long had separate, but unequal, voting rights. Citizens with past felony convictions face hurdles intended to keep them from voting. And the current “voter ID” law movement is certainly just the updated version of the historic effort to declare that while all people are created equal, some are a heck of a lot more equal than others.

Democracy is a muscle. Voting is one important exercise. Exercising that right to vote is a vital part of the process of keeping democracy in proper shape. Having it in proper shape is the best option for preventing the theft of the 2012 elections.

Thanks,
H2O Man

14 replies, 1754 views

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Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 14 replies Author Time Post
Reply Vote (Original post)
H2O Man Oct 2012 OP
upi402 Oct 2012 #1
upi402 Oct 2012 #4
H2O Man Oct 2012 #5
upi402 Oct 2012 #10
BumRushDaShow Oct 2012 #2
H2O Man Oct 2012 #7
Downwinder Oct 2012 #3
H2O Man Oct 2012 #8
G_j Oct 2012 #6
H2O Man Oct 2012 #11
porphyrian Oct 2012 #9
H2O Man Oct 2012 #12
porphyrian Oct 2012 #14
coeur_de_lion Oct 2012 #13

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 11:02 AM

1. Ok I'll do it right now!

Ballot in the kitchen counter... here I go!

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Response to upi402 (Reply #1)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 01:30 PM

4. done

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Response to upi402 (Reply #4)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 03:06 PM

5. Thank you!

I had a person tell me that they weren't sure if they were going to vote in November, because they "weren't sure" it made any difference. I know this person is sincere in his position, but ignorant as the day is long. (We've been friends for a long time, and he likes to talk about political and social issues, but has been brainwashed by our culture into a learned helplessness.)

Then I read a response to a good OP here yesterday, where someone wrote that they haven't voted since 2000, with the "what's the use?" icing.

That combination is more than enough to annoy a grumpy old man like myself. In the 1980s, I had to get help from the Center for Constitutional Rights, to get my upstate NY county to actually register the application forms that our grass roots group had gone door-to-door to get filled out. And even in 2004, another nearby county attempted to toss out the registration forms that we brought them.

In this highly republican area, being young and/or low-income is too often a hurdle to voting. I'll be damned if I am going to stand for that.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #5)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 03:21 PM

10. Thank YOU for your service work

and ALL you have done.

Gratitude.

Folks have got their brains kicked in, others went to war. To me, dismissing this simple-yet-sacred societal act is the height of self-justified selfish laziness.

I still consent to be governed, just barely at this point.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 11:12 AM

2. "In 1913, the 17th Amendment allowed for voters to determine who their US Senators would be."

And the daughter of the Senator who triggered passage of that amendment just died last year -

http://www.forbes.com/sites/zillow/2012/03/16/reclusive-heiress-huguette-clarks-ny-apartments-listed-for-combined-55-million/

Here in PA, we don't have early voting and after the fiasco of 2008 here in Philly with trying to get an absentee ballot (which I desperately had to do being out of town back then), I will be ferrying family members to the polls on November 6.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Reply #2)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 03:13 PM

7. Thank you!

I surely appreciate your post. I love those connections!

Earlier in the week, at a school board meeting, we were discussing the issue of federal financial aid. Should Romney-Ryan gain office, public schools will be hurt, far beyond what an unsuspecting public is aware of.

That can be discouraging.

But I found myself thinking about how the first US Senator to advocate federal support for public schools had been raised in the tiny hamlet that Ilive near. His first job -- when he was a teenager -- was at a cloth & carding factory, that was located at the waterfalls on the farm that I now inhabit. In fact, the woman he would marry was of a family that lived in this house.

Democracy is a process, with both important and fascinating roots to the past.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 11:24 AM

3. Done

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Response to Downwinder (Reply #3)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 03:13 PM

8. Thanks!

Much appreciated.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 03:12 PM

6. K&R!

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Response to G_j (Reply #6)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 04:30 PM

11. Thanks!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 03:18 PM

9. ! n/t

 

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Response to porphyrian (Reply #9)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 04:31 PM

12. Thanks!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #12)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 05:47 PM

14. It's a good message. n/t

 

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Oct 20, 2012, 05:45 PM

13. just sent away for my absentee ballot n/t

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