Well, if you’re picking up the paper this week and you haven’t voted yet, you still have the opportunity to do so on Tuesday, November 3. To be able to cast your vote is a privilege that men and women who have worn the uniform of this great nation have guaranteed to you over the years. Some of those who put on that uniform made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure you are able to do that just that, and there is no good excuse why you don’t avail yourself of that responsibility.
We have made the task of voting exceptionally easy for our residents, and yes, it is safe, even if you vote absentee by mail. During the years, I was actively working, I would be traveling extensively and took advantage of absentee voting, especially when I was traveling internationally for business. My sister Kathy would also take advantage of absentee voting when she taught overseas and never had an issue. Today you can even track your ballot to ensure it has been received and has been tabulated.
Early voting is another great example of how easy it has become to beat the long lines on election day. You can even access the Supervisor of Elections Office online and see how many voters have cast their ballots so far. The other day when I did my early voting, I had the opportunity to chat with several voters, and before you knew it, we had completed our civic duty and were on our way.
Many people today fail to appreciate or acknowledge their responsibility in shaping the government we have. Unfortunately, we have become a nation that is deluged with fancy mailers, constant electronic blitzes and social media bombardment playing to our fears and distributing misinformation across our smartphones, computers and other electronic devices.
The people elected to office will work for us, not the other way around. Because they will work for us, it is paramount that we become educated about the issues that they will be dealing with on our behalf. We are called upon to vote on referendum issues on the ballot, as well as for those who will represent us. It is convenient that the Supervisor of Elections Office sends out to each voter a sample ballot that allows you to review those running for office, while doing a little research on them and on the issues, you may be called to vote on.
Our nation has matured over the last 244 years since we declared our independence and voting was controlled by the individual state legislatures. During those early days, only white men, at least 21 years of age, and who were landowners could vote.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution granted full citizenship rights to those born or naturalized in the United States.
In 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed, eliminating racial barriers to voting. Unfortunately, discrimination did continue in the form of Poll Taxes, literacy tests, fraud and intimidation, preventing many from exercising those voting rights.
In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment granted women the right to vote, and in 1924, the Indian Citizenship Act granted Native Americans citizenship and full voting rights.
1964 saw the Federal Civil Rights Act, which dropped all barriers for men and women regardless of race, religion or education, granting their rights across the board to vote. That was followed in 1965 by the Federal Voting Rights Act.
In 1971, the legal age for voting was reduced to 18. The Vietnam War had a great deal to do with that, as young men were being drafted into the military to fight for the nation, but not allowed to vote.
Yes, we have matured as a nation, and a number of other changes have been instituted to reduce barriers and improve accessibility for the elderly and handicapped, ensuring they would have continued improved access to polling locations across the nation.
Should you move and change your address, you should avail yourself of the ease of updating your information with your local election’s office. To do so in Collier County, you may simply visit their easy–to–use website at www.colliervotes.com. There you can also check on any changes to polling places and hours of operations for both early voting and Election Day.
Thomas Jefferson famously once wrote, “The government you elect is the government you deserve.” Those words ring truer today than when Jefferson spoke them, as he reflected on why it is so important that the electorate stay informed and educated regarding the issues of the day.
As voters, we have the ultimate responsibility to ensure we elect men and women who govern for the good of society and not for benefit of special interests or themselves during their terms in office.