Written by :
Destinee Mondragon, Journalism major
Sienna Ruiz, Creative Writing major
Voting in the United States, hasn’t always been as inclusive. Although the first presidential election in the United States was in 1789 voting had already been around in the United States since 1776. In 1776, voting was controlled by individual state legislatures. Voting in early America was complicated, there were many rules and the rules in each state were different. Some states required religious tests for voting while others abolished this rule. A common rule within the early American states was to allow all free tax paying adult males to vote.
In 1789, with the signing of the constitution, the right to vote was extended to white property owning men. Although there were strict requirements in place for voting, some were able to vote in the first presidential election making George Washington the first president of the United States. It was still many years before all citizens would be granted equal rights to vote.
(Check out the chart below to see the history of voting within the United States)
Voting isn’t just about voting for the next president. Your vote matters on many more levels. In fact, even if a president gets voted in that you support, it’s still likely that the laws and legislatures that they want to pass might not go through because of other factors. This fall election is going to be important because this election is going to help redraw electoral districts across the country. State lawmakers that are elected this year will help redraw the election maps for the next decade. Gerrymandering and the drawing of election districts affects us because who we vote for can help draw a district that can give one party a higher chance of winning over the other. This means that even if a president is trying to pass a legislature and even if you agree with the legislature they are putting forth, the law can still not be passed because of lack of votes in the House of Representatives.
Another way that voting is important is on your city, state, and county level. When you’re voting this year for president, you’re also voting for individuals that are going to run your cities such as mayors, governors, and District Attorney’s.
The events such as protests in the past year have been uprooted from the certain truth that not enough people are becoming involved in our political system. This is much more than just a mere vote that is not being taken, it’s a person’s values and beliefs not being recognized in our country. For the younger generation, the aspect of voting isn’t something that is everyone’s cup of tea and not very interesting. Let’s face the facts we are allowing our futures being decided upon by people who won’t even live it out. It doesn’t mean that we should just be involved in just the presidential elections but all in local, state and city wise. If all we are doing is just criticizing from the side on the choices being made then what is the point of being a side voice rather than voicing your opinion where it needs to be heard.
Our nation has faced a world-wide pandemic and has brought new light into some of the issues the country has been facing overtime. One of the realities that came out from the shadows was the Blacks Lives Matter movement with a passion. As some know, The Black Lives Matter movement is a foundation that has grown into a global organization since 2013. BLM serves to “combat and counter the acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.” Some are skeptical on the time in which these protests came about but when looking in the past months we have to analyze the correlation.
Since the movement became public, more cases of police brutality against African-Americans have been an ongoing issue on news channels and have caught attention to the public eye in representing the racism in our country today. “Between 2013 and 2019, police in the United States killed 7,666 people, according to data compiled by Mapping Police Violence, a research and advocacy group. Despite only making up 13 percent of the US population, Black Americans are two-and-a-half times as likely as white Americans to be killed by the police.
The case of George Floyd, a 46-year-old man from Minnesota, was the major turning point in the movement and what truly brought a spark into Americans to join the BLM movement and demand justice for reform. “ Polls indicated that, as of mid-June, as many as 21 million adults had attended a Black Lives Matter or police brutality protest.”
The Society of Microbiology stated that, “significantly impacted Black, American Indian and Hispanic communities with significantly higher infection and morbidity rates. COVID-19 exposed the huge disparities in health care access that were always part of their reality, but not always noticed by many of us,” meaning that there were already issues within our political system cracking with minority groups frustrated. This then led to the, “The movement gained momentum following recent incidents of unlawfully murdering Black people who were simply going about their lives—shopping, jogging or sleeping in their own beds—and of White people continuing to harass POC and using police presence for their own safety.”
In taking numerical terms, according to Hamilition, “95 percent of young people surveyed indicated that issues were very important in deciding how they would vote. In contrast, only small minorities said celebrity endorsements (2.2 percent), the candidates’ race (5.2 percent), or the candidates’ physical appearance (6.2 percent) were very important to them.” What does it all mean in a nutshell, young people do care about what is going on in our nation and we are conscious of the political issue. The issue that most are having is getting to the ballot box and making that choice to represent ourselves.
As a citizen we are given the power to voice our opinions on what we believe and the quality of life we want for ourselves. This ultimately plays upon what will constitute our futures and for future generations as well. Not voting is the same thing as giving up your voice and not exercising your given right as a citizen. Everyone has a right to vote upon what they believe and vote for what they believe in. Voting is your chance to choose how your tax dollars are spent, like funding for health care and social services. The stress of voting couldn’t be more immense especially in our day and age with the social injustices and the people that are given political power. If we were involved more with our country and let our opinions of who we think belongs in political power we really wouldn’t have been in such a deep situation we are in right now. We enjoy complaining and bickering about who is elected into office but yet we don’t take that step to ultimately have a leading factor in deciding who does have this power. The bottom line of this whole thing is that we all need to come together, voice our opinions and vote vote vote!
For information about voting in California visit our Voting Guide.
Sources Reference :
-California Official Voter Information Guide