In the beginning of our nation, many people in this country could not vote. The 1778 Constitution provided suffrage — the right to vote — to white male property owners who had reached the required age of majority. African Americans, Native Americans, women and males under 21 years of age were excluded.
Over the next 200 years, amendments to the Constitution provided voting rights for these excluded groups. The 1965 Voting Rights Act sought to overcome legal and societal barriers that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote.
After all this, and sometimes violent struggle in our nation’s history, only about 30% of eligible voters are expected to show up to vote on Tuesday. That is not a statistic to be proud of!
It is important for you to vote — what more can be said? Turns out quite a bit.
Elections are about people first — us, our families, schools, health care and communities. Voting is one of the most personal decisions we are asked to make — an act we make in complete privacy of the voting booth. Local elections are about where we live and work every day and have the greatest impact on our lives.
Kentucky is special because it is still small enough for its residents to personally know our statewide officials. Voting in state and local elections is an opportunity to make real and immediate change for ourselves, families and neighborhoods. Where else can you have that kind of impact?
Of course, voting does not guarantee that your selected candidate will win. However, not voting relinquishes a powerful tool for you to participate in our democracy. Shouldn’t we hold ourselves accountable first?
You are not just voting for candidates; you are voting for issues they campaign on. If you don’t vote for the issues you care about, who will? Many argue that government no longer works. But when you don't vote you are not participating in government by, for and of the people. Voting is the process that keeps the wheels of our government turning, so if government doesn’t work, isn’t that a reflection on us — voters and nonvoters? It is our tool to hold elected officials accountable. Voting is your personal superpower!
Voting does take time and effort, and it brings a sense of having done your civic duty. We should appreciate the commitment of hundreds of people who volunteer to staff the polls, as well as the efforts by Franklin County Clerk Jeff Hancock to ensure our voting is accessible and secure within the guidelines of current Kentucky law.
If we want to put America first and move Kentucky to first on many scales, we need to put ourselves first by voting on Tuesday.
Together Frankfort encourages you to exercise the greatest privilege our lifetimes. Because, as Marv DeBoy (technology entrepreneur) stated, “the rest of us are depending on you."
Gae Broadwater and Barbara Hadley Smith, of Frankfort, are Together Frankfort coordinators and can be emailed at email@example.com.