As we approach yet another contentious, polarizing national election on Nov. 8, it is important to remember that voting is a right people have died to achieve and maintain.
Black men in the U.S. were not given the right to vote by the framers of the Constitution. Nor were women. Men fought in Vietnam and came back to find they were barred by age from voting.
It was more than 100 years after the framers wrote the Constitution that the country passed the 15th Amendment, granting voting rights to Black men. Even then, Jim Crow laws in the South hindered their exercise of this basic American freedom until the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Women were barred from voting until 1920, another fatal flaw in the framing of the U.S. Constitution.
After all this struggle, all these marches, all this bloodshed in the South, the white supremacy movement is still pushing to roll back voting rights.
State legislatures have gerrymandered minority voters into districts that dilute their vote. New voting laws across the U.S. require onerous forms of identification, reduce the number of locations to cast a vote in minority communities, and undermine efforts to make voting easier, like allowing mail-in ballots and voting on the weekends.
This is the landscape we face in November.
There are lots of good excuses to skip voting this year — childcare demands, transportation challenges, time restraints and a general malaise that makes us feel like none of this really matters. That the same old politicians will make the same old decisions. That nothing on the ballot really impacts our daily lives.
It does matter in 2022. Today, you may have the right to vote. Tomorrow, you may face obstacles that make it impossible.
Your vote is your voice and it is unique. Your community, your neighborhood needs that voice. The act of voting with neighbors, friends and family is one step to building a better community.
Urge your neighbors, your family, your friends your house of worship, to go out and vote. Don’t let them look back in regret and wonder how they lost their voice.