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Voting is an honor and a privilege

It’s that time again. Another election season is in full swing and we are inundated with advertisements, the jargon of the political pundits, along with the constant attacks on the credibility of the candidates running for office. There’s often no escape as we channel surf in an attempt to get away from the election rhetoric that seems to be endless. It makes you wonder what the television news stations will find to report on once the November 6th presidential election is over.
Before I whine too much, I try and remember that although the coverage and attacks on the presidential hopefuls leading up to an election can be tedious, petty and aggravating, we as a nation have fought to be able to vote and voice our opinions. It’s not something to be taken lightly as scores of service men and women have given their lives so Americans can live in a democratic nation. Our fathers, grandfathers and beyond have fought to preserve our freedoms and that includes the privilege to cast our votes for the leaders of our country.
Although we often hear that it’s our right to vote, I could not find any wordage in the Constitution or Bill of Rights that specifically states voting is our right, although it is an honor and a privilege. The road to ensure that all American citizens are able to vote has been long and tedious. In 1790, only white men who were property owners could help choose elected officials. The 15th amendment was passed that says we cannot stop someone from voting based on race or color. This applied only to men at the time, as women were not able to cast their ballots until the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920. The 26th amendment, passed in time for the 1972 election, lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
America is a country of immigrants who came from many walks of life. They left their homes for religious freedom, walked away from war and discord, strife, persecution, famine and poverty. They set out across the ocean knowing they may never see the families they left behind. They were all heading to America, the land of opportunity and promises. Our ancestors faced the unknown seeking a better life for themselves, their families and future generations. We owe it to them and future Americans to make our voices heard.
The November election allows us to speak up and to be able to vote for the people we believe will do their best for the United States of America, from our state representatives to members of Congress and the Senate, all the way up to the President of the United States. Be thankful we live in a country where we have a say in our government. Remember that people have died so you and I could be free. Exercise that freedom.
“Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption,” wrote James Garfield, in “A Century of Congress,” published in the Atlantic in July of 1877. One hundred thirty five years later, Garfield’s words still ring true.
Go vote on November 6, 2012.