Voting Is A Right And a Privilege

In about four weeks we will once again have an opportunity to express our God given right to cast our vote for various offices that will be filled. The reason that I use the term God Given, is because the laws of this country are seeded in the teachings of John Locke. Not only is voting a right guaranteed for its’ citizens of this great country but it also a privilege that is unique to freedom loving countries around the world.

While voting has all ways been a part of the American experience it is unique to many countries that have just recently earned the right to vote for the first time in the history of their country. So expressive and important the message of voting is to a country, organizations such as the Taliban in Afghanistan would murder people that had dared to vote or in some cases cut off the fingers that had been dyed to show that a person had voted. Unfortunately because of our Afghanistan pull-out the country has sunk back into the stone age and voting is a relic for the country in general and the women in specific.  But when did voting actually begin.

The ancient Greeks had voting within its’ culture; however, there were four restrictions. You had to be a male, both parents had to be Greeks, the voter had to be a land owner and also be an adult. While many believe that Greece was the beginning of voting, votes were actually being cast in Mesopotamia around 3,000 BC.

Ancient Rome expanded the concept of voting, and the leaders were elected to handle the laws of the ancient country. Over time voting has been refined until we have what is in place today; but what is in place today is not what our great nation started with.

Voting became a part of the American vernacular in 1787. Much development has been implemented since that time. In that year one of the greatest documents to have ever been inked, the Constitution of the United States of America was signed and this allowed white male property owners over 21 years of age to vote. This is very similar to the requirements to vote in Greece over 2,000 years earlier. By 1843 the requirement to own property was dropped and in 1870 race was no longer a requirement to be able to vote.  Race continued to be an issue until the 1960s when major reform was passed in congress.

In 1920 women were allowed to vote in national elections. In many states a poll tax was charged in an effort to discourage poor and minorities from voting. This was abolished in 1964 and there were no longer any requirements to pay a tax to be able to vote. For me personally, 1971 was important as it lowered the voting age to 18. The argument was that a person that can go to war and lead men in combat should surely be competent to vote in elections. Other reforms have taken place until the right to vote is where it is today.

Many people say that they only have one vote and it really doesn’t mean anything therefore why worry about voting. This may seem logical but in fact one vote can make a difference. In 1645 Oliver Cromwell took control of England by one vote. In our own country, one vote gave America the English language as the official language instead of German. One vote saved Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, from impeachment and in France one vote changed its leadership from a monarchy to a republic. Back to America and in 1876 Rutherford Hayes won the presidency by one vote.

As amusing as seeing the results of what one vote can mean to an election, there is a more sobering aspect to this. The right to vote has been crafted within the constitution and laws of our great country. The privilege to vote has been protected and presented to us by men and women of our military and police agencies that gave the ultimate sacrifice to guarantee us a place in the voting booth. From the Revolutionary war through a horrible civil war and on to two world wars, a war in Korea and a “police action” in Viet Nam up through Enduring Freedom well over a million men and women died to allow us to cast our votes.  If you would like to the man and women that sacrificed large blocks of their lives for our freedom, go out to your local VFW or American Legion and say hello to these fine patriots.

Recently Scotland voted to remain as a part of the British Empire. Over 85% of voters turned out to cast this vote. How amazing I thought and how wonderful it would be to even come close to this turnout. Unfortunately on many occasions we become complacent and take the right to vote for granted.  Then when the outcome is not what had been hoped, we observe many that did not cast a vote complain about the outcome.

In four weeks we will turn out to vote for various public officials that will have an impact on our future. The ability to vote has been given to us but the decision to vote resides with the individual voter. One thing that is certain, when a voter walks into that booth and the curtain closes behind; the voter is free to cast the vote of conscience for the candidate that he or she feels would be the best person for the job.

What a wonderful referendum for freedom and for our nation if we could experience a very large turn out for our next election.  Please take the time to thank those that died for our ability to cast a vote by taking a few moments out of our lives and going to the polls.

Got Bless America and Pray for the Ukraine.

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Thomas FieldsThomas “Tuffy” Fields is an author and regular contributor to The Gazette. He can …

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