Rushville Republican

Opinion

November 6, 2012

Barada: Voting has never been easier

RUSHVILLE — Well, today’s the day. Today, is the day on which we get to exercise one of our most important privileges, the right to vote.

The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in years divisible by four became “Election Day” by Act of Congress in 1845. Why the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November was selected is, to say the least, interesting. According to Wikipedia, “In 1845, the United States was largely an agrarian society. Farmers often needed a full day to travel by horse-drawn vehicles to the county seat to vote. Tuesday was established as Election Day because it did not interfere with the Biblical Sabbath or with market day, which was on Wednesday in many towns.” Well, so much for any grand and glorious scheme for the selection of the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November as Election Day. There’s nothing mystical about it, just a practical solution to a practical problem.

It would be a false assumption, however, to believe that everybody who could actually cast a ballot in this country in 1845. Restrictions on who could vote have littered our history. For example, in 1790, only white adult male property owners had the right to vote. Unpropertied white men, most women, and all people of color were denied the right to vote. After the Civil War, many states imposed literacy tests, poll taxes, and even religious tests to deny others the right to vote. Gradually, amendments to the Constitution of the United States eliminated most of the barriers to voting. In 1868, the 14th Amendment gave the right to vote to all persons born in or naturalized citizens of the United States. In 1870, the 15th Amendment gave the right to vote to citizens without regard to race, color, or previous condition of servitude; this was the amendment that essentially gave former slaves the right to vote. Women were given the vote in 1920 via the 19th Amendment. The 24th Amendment, passed in 1964, eliminated the payment of a poll tax or any other tax as a bar to voting. The 26th Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1971, extended the privilege of voting to anyone  years of age or older. So, as can be seen, the right to vote has not been a universal right since the country’s founding. It has taken nearly 200 years to enfranchise fully most American citizens.

Despite all the progress that has been made, the individual states are still attempting to deal with issues like voter rights among people who are homeless. Another issue is proof of identification, which is being debated. Some feel that requiring some sort of identification will disenfranchise the poor and minority groups, even though most states offer a free identification card for voting purposes. Even at that, some states require a mailing address to prove residency, rather than just listing a street corner, park, or shelter where an individual stays at night as a valid residence. Homeless individuals face other hurdles when it comes to voting. As recently as 10 years ago, the “Help America Vote Act” requires homeless people to provide a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number on their voter registration form.

The point of all the foregoing information is to highlight the complications that make voting in national elections more difficult. The other side of the coin, however, is the need to prevent voter fraud. Requiring a photo ID, especially when most states provide them at no charge, seems like a logical way to solve the problem. Several states offer free voter ID cards through local motor vehicle license branches. Some advocates for the poor and homeless contend, however, that requiring people to obtain a free photo ID card imposes an undue burden on them. The counter argument is, if the poor and the homeless can get to their respective polling places to vote, they should be able to get to a license branch for a free photo ID card.

Voter fraud has been a persistent problem since the earliest days of the republic. People who own homes in more than one location, for example, have frequently used multiple locations to cast multiple votes! Another common fraud is unscrupulous people claiming to be a registered vote who is still on the rolls, but who has actually passed away. Purging voter registration records is one way to solve the problem of dead people still casting a vote. It’s still possible for a dishonest person to claim to be a deceased registered voter and cast more than one fraudulent ballot.

The point is exercising one’s voting privilege is not something anyone should take lightly. The whole history of voting rights is an ongoing struggle to insure that only those who are entitled to vote are allowed to exercise that privilege – and that none who are legally entitled to vote are wrongfully denied that privilege. And yet, thousands upon thousands of registered voters won’t even bother to go to the polls today and cast their ballot in what could easily be one of the most important national elections in living memory.

Democracy works because free people freely elect those who will represent them both at home, in the state house, and in Washington. There’s still time! If you haven’t cast your ballot yet, exercise the privilege and vote!

That’s -30- for this week.

 

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • The best years of your life

    As people age they often look back to fondly recall the best years of their lives. Natural timeframes are the college years or that certain age before the daily grind of work and family take over the bulk of the day. Associations are to being carefree with limited responsibilities, a light and airy existence.

    August 13, 2013

  • Ziemke: My Summer Homework

    Even though session has been out for a little more than a month, the General Assembly still has much work to do. I had a brief break where I got to go home and mow the lawn, spend time at my restaurant, the Brau Haus, and attend a few festivals in addition to continuing to work on constituent concerns. The time has come for work on summer study committees to commence and I’m ready to get back at it.

    June 28, 2013

  • Mauzy: Rush County: The hope and the despair

    Moments arise when hope and despair briefly intersect. During these emotional overlaps, it’s a toss-up as to which energy will win even though we desire the best. Two recent high-profile events present the overlapping calamity often noticed in this community.

    June 28, 2013

  • Asbestos awareness is an important topic

    Dear Editor:
    My father, sister and husband all died because of asbestos. Now my brother has asbestosis. I set up my website because of the death of my husband to let people know of the dangers. It was the first website designed by a person on the internet at that time instead of by lawyers. The stories are to honour those effected by asbestos and to make sure they are never forgotten. I had just finished the last sentence when I heard of Janelle’s death.

    June 27, 2013

  • Proposed parade route

    Dear Editor:
    I see room for compromise on the 4th of July parade route. Up Main Street to 5th Street then take 5th Street to Harrison Street to 11th Street.
    Gene Monroe
    Rushville

    June 26, 2013

  • Barada: Good advice for parents and college students

    This week’s column is more for the parents of kids about to head to college than unsolicited advice for students about to go. Why? Because kids going away from home, some for the very first time ever, can be an even more traumatic event for the parents than for their children!

    June 25, 2013

  • Stop the student loan interest rate hike

    The key to a great life is a good education. But paying for a college education is tough. Many families are taking out second mortgages. Some are putting-off deserved vacations. Others are telling their kids they just can’t afford to attend the school of their choice.

    June 19, 2013

  • Mauzy: Recent graduates are free to explore

    Two weeks have now passed since Rush County Schools released new graduates from a state required academic curriculum.

    June 18, 2013

  • Parade should be on Harrison Street

    Dear Editor:
    There was good reason for not moving the parade back onto Main Street after the third lane was rammed through: we learned Harrison Street is a better route for both the participants and the spectators.

    June 18, 2013

  • Barada: The right people in key places

    For the first time in years, this community has exceptionally good people in key places within organizations involved directly with helping make Rush County a better place in which to live!

    June 18, 2013