Voting in America has a complicated past. While our Constitution outlined how the new country would vote, it didn’t specify who could vote.
In the 1800s, this question was largely left to each state to decide. In most cases, landowning white men were eligible to vote, while white women, black people, and other marginalized populations were excluded from voting. Fortunately, as values and sentiment shifted, the 15th Amendment was passed in 1869, empowering black men to vote. However, even in the midst of these changes, many would-be voters faced unjust hurdles like literacy tests, arbitrary taxes, and other policies and processes that discounted their voices. These shifty practices continued until the 24th Amendment in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Women were denied the right to vote until 1920. As the suffragists made their voices heard, the 19th Amendment was passed.
Many People, Few Voices
Now, the U.S. is a far cry from a primarily monochromatic 1700s when our nation was founded. The United States now boasts a massive population (328,239,523 at last count) representing a tremendous variety of belief systems, cultures, races, economic statuses, and just about any other demographic you can think of.
With our historically hard-earned right to vote, it would reasonably follow that everyone who has the right to do so, would exercise that right. But as we look at the statistics, the narrative reads differently.
Since the 1970s, statistics have shown that voter turnout has been decreasing and that the average percentage of US citizens of voting age who actually vote hovers around only 54%. Put in straightforward terms, 66% or 216,638,085 people of voting age do not vote. If you lined up that many dollar bills end to end, that distance would equal 19,380 miles, or the distance from Washington D.C. to Sydney, Australia — and back again!
Why Your Vote Matters
We’re faced with some very important issues as we enter into this coming election. The future of not just our nation, but our planet and all of its inhabitants, hangs in a balance. If we desire change, one of the most impactful ways we can create that change is to VOTE and make our voices heard.
While we here at the Home & Hope organization support no political party or candidate, we do believe that the change we wish to see in the world hinges on our actions — those of supporting and assisting vulnerable populations — those on the brink of, or experiencing poverty and homelessness.
We urge you to reflect on our historical hard-earned rights. We urge you to stand up and be counted. On November 3, we urge you to vote.
For information on polling places local to you, visit https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/