Every Election Day, a colleague puts on a suit and takes his young sons to the polls with him to vote. Even though his sons may be too young to fully understand voting, he is instilling in them, at an early age, the importance of this precious right. Self-governance guides the course of our nation. Voting is not only a right, secured by the sacrifices of countless Americans, but also it is an individual responsibility to help shape our nation.
With the passage of time, it is easy to forget that there was a day when all Americans could not exercise the right to vote. The Declaration of Independence directs that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." However, it took many years of perseverance and courage for many Americans to get to vote. It was not until 1868, after the long and bloody Civil War, that the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment directed that the right to vote shall not be denied on account of race and color. Nearly 100 years later, the Voting Rights Act was enacted to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment.
Additionally, women were left out of the Fifteenth Amendment protections. While some states, including Idaho, were ahead of the nation in allowing women to vote, it was not until 1920 that the national right of women to vote was secured through the Nineteenth Amendment. This occurred more than twenty years after the first women's rights convention was held in the U.S.
There is no doubt that we can cast our votes today because the Founding Fathers included this right in our inspired Constitution and many brave men and women have worked, and paid the ultimate price, to secure this liberty. As Americans, we have a voice in determining the leadership of our nation that many do not have. We should hold this opportunity dear.
As Election Day nears, it is important to learn about candidates and issues and participate in the electoral process. The official voting information website for the State of Idaho can be accessed at www.idahovotes.gov. The website provides election forms, voter registration, polling location and other voting information.
We have the right to vote and the right to choose not to vote, and unfortunately millions of Americans choose not to vote and forfeit their voice in the process. But, our nation has significant challenges ahead, and needs the direction of many involved citizens. The national unemployment rate remains persistently high. Too many people looking for work cannot find it or have given up searching for a job. Our national debt exceeds $16 trillion, and hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases, affecting every American, will take effect if action is not taken by the end of this year. These are a few of the many issues that must be addressed.
As our nation's 33rd President Harry S. Truman put it, "It is not the hand that signs the laws that holds the destiny of America. It is the hand that casts the ballot." We cannottake for granted this opportunity, secured by sacrifice and desired around the world. Each vote will help determine the course of our nation, and I hope that this November 6 more Americans will exercise this right and responsibility.