Letter: A responsibility to vote
At our founding, only the landed gentry, meaning white males, were allowed to vote in any elections. The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave the right to vote to black males in 1870. Women had to wait until 1920 for the 19th Amendment to be ratified. Of course, it wasn’t ratified by all the states then. In fact, Virginia didn’t ratify the 19th Amendment until 1952. But don’t feel bad, Virginians. North Carolina didn’t ratify it until 1971.
The right to the franchise has been a long and hard-fought battle for many of us. And nearly every day, someone in electronic or print media despairs of having our most precious Constitutional right torn from us. And yet, many of us give away this precious right without a thought to its importance. Do you vote in all elections?
Records show that more people vote in presidential elections than in local and state elections, as if the local and state elections had little import. Nothing could be further from the truth. Government has its greatest effect at the local and state level, where we all live.
We have the right to vote, but what about the responsibility? We have a responsibility to ourselves and our families to ensure the best people are in a position to make decisions for us all. Isn’t it our responsibility to make sure the permitting process of home construction and land development doesn’t cost so much that it is impossible to go forward with our personal plans?
What about the responsibility to see that our children receive the best possible education? It serves no one when the board of supervisors and the school board can’t get along. Which candidates can we elect to ensure compromise and civility take place between these two panels?
State-level elections will decide who will represent us in the General Assembly, who will be our governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. These are people who make big decisions on transportation, education and the environment, among other issues.
If we are to have a government we can depend on, one we trust to do its best for all our citizens, we must accept our responsibility and exercise our precious right to vote. Nov. 5 is Election Day. Where will you be?