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Why We Vote

Updated: Jun 5, 2020

Submitted by Michele George Appel

Voting is a right, privilege and responsibility of all eligible U.S. citizens whether natural born or legally naturalized. [1]  It’s mentioned five times in the US Constitution, more than any other right.  Sounds kinda important doesn’t it? And thus accordingly, no one is required to vote.  As citizens we vote yearly in numerous elections whether they are local board/council, state or national elections. There are 4 Amendments to the US Constitution having to do with voting.  The 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th Amendment.   Voting is one very important way for U.S. citizens to participate in their government.  By working with other citizens to elect your candidate, it is a way to send a representative of your voices  to designated locations (City Hall/County Courthouse/Denver/Washington D.C.) for said business of our government.  What are your priorities for your family, your community and this country?  How do you want your government to go about achieving those goals?  Is it laws that help spend your tax dollars on schools, military services, services for the well-being of elderly citizens?  Are they laws that help protect the environment and water, our National Parks? Is it to pass tax laws the help businesses creat jobs or healthcare?  The list is very long of the desires of citizens.  The candidates generally will speak about these priorities and you decide whether this is the right person to work with others to accomplish those goals.

Votes were cast by voice for the first 50 years of our nations history.  And these votes were cast by only white men.  Voting by paper became Standard in the early 19th century and were simply pieces of paper where the voter would write the name of the person they were voting for and thus counted.  Then newspaper editors started printing tear out ballots with the title and name of candidate to make it easier for voters and to sell more papers!  Then the parties got smart and started printing their own ‘tickets’ that had the names of only their party candidates making it easier to vote a straight ticket.  Voting fraud charges ensued and in the late 19th century New York and  Massachusetts were first in adopting a uniform ballot with all candidate names and they were passed out at polling places.

In 1870 the 15th Amendment was passed as part of reconstruction after the Civil War making it illegal to deny voter rights based on race, color or previous conditions of servitude (men).  In 1920 the 19th Amendment was passed giving all women the right to vote.  In 1964 the 24th Amendment passed making it illegal to require voters to pay or have paid a tax in order to be able to vote.  It  wasn’t until  1971 (the Vietnam war ear)  the 26th Amendment gave the right to vote to citizens 18 years or older.  In Colorado we may register youth at the age of 16 and youth who are 17 years of age may vote in a primary election if the will be 18 by the time they vote in the general election.  Here in Colorado you are required to have proof of your residency to vote.  There are a variety of ways to show proof of residency; a valid State Photo ID, Drivers license or other document that is approved by the Colorado Secretary of State, see the Colorado Secretary of State website [2].  You can even register to vote online and check your voter registration to make sure you are registered or update your registration if you have moved and have a new address. 

Generally speaking, as a citizen of the United States of America you are given the right to vote ‘at birth’ and naturalization.  This right can only be taken away from you under certain circumstances.  Mainly if you are convicted of a felony; lets be thankful it doesn’t include getting a traffic ticket  we all make mistakes... (CAN WE PUT A WINKING EMOJI HERE?)   If you are a convicted felon there are rules that exist in Colorado that return your right to vote. [3]  We live in a Democratic Republic.  The word  ‘democratic’ dictates how we go about deciding how we do things here.  We democratically elect people/candidates to represent us in achieving our collective goals.   We vote because our Constitution, as extracted from our 16th president Abraham Lincoln, these United States and its Constitution is of the People, By the People, And For the People.


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