During this time in a presidential election year, we are bombarded with ads on the television and radio, and endless talking heads with conflicting perspectives on the news. It can be difficult and time-consuming to follow the issues. One can feel so overwhelmed with everyday life that voting does not make it onto a list of priorities. Yet voting truly does have a direct effect on our everyday lives. The politicians you vote into office make decisions about your taxes, your health benefits, your schooling, transportation…virtually every aspect of your life is touched by the decision-makers that you elect.
Understanding the tumultuous history of voting may help to foster a deeper appreciation of our current right to vote. We can see not only how far we’ve come, but also how many issues we must still address.
Not so long ago, women were still fighting for their right to vote. The 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, was not passed until 1920 – less than 100 years ago. In the even less-distant past, many fought against discriminatory voting practices such as the requirement of literacy tests and polling taxes. Their voices were finally heard with the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. If we didn’t live through these tumultuous years, it’s easy to forget that voting was once a privilege possessed by the few rather than a right extended to every citizen.
Even today, voters’ rights are still at the forefront of political debates. Currently the country is asking: should photo IDs be required to vote? Some say “yes,” voter fraud is an issue that must be addressed by requiring every voter to provide an approved photo ID. Others say “no,” placing the burden of obtaining a photo ID on all voters will leave many disenfranchised. You can search our databases such as CQ Researcher Plus Archive to learn more about both sides of the debate, including the major role Indiana is playing in the national arena.
The debate over photo ID requirements may show you that there is rarely, if ever, a perfect solution to a problem. Our country, no matter how great, can always be improved with new laws and regulations to reflect a changing and growing population. The responsibility for those decisions belongs to you, and you must make your voice heard! Join the campus and the country to celebrate the Constitution and your right to vote. Find the list of upcoming events on our ADP LibGuide under the “Get Involved!” tab.
– WomenCampaign1915: Women campaign for the right to vote in New Jersey, 1915. Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest, “Suffragists Campaign For The Vote In New Jersey”, accessed 7 Sep 2012, http://quest.eb.com/images/115_892894
– CivilRights1965: Civil rights protesters join Dr. Martin Luther King on a march for black voting rights in Alabama, 1965. Source: Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest, “Civil Rights March”, accessed 7 Sep 2012, http://quest.eb.com/images/115_899083
– ADP Logo: logo for the American Democracy Project