Definition of Vote – a usually formal expression of opinion or will in response to a proposed decision; especially : one given as an indication of approval or disapproval of a proposal, motion, or candidate for office”

I’ve been sitting back and flipping the channel between MSNBC, CNN and Saturday Night Live for the past few weeks. I’ve been on my laptop and iPad conducting fact checks on fact checkers because I simply refuse to rely on mass media to form ideas of this election for me. I watched debates, interviews, listened to pundits and news radio. I’ve followed tweets and watched a steady stream of “Free Big Bird” photo’s string across the world wide web.

And then I took in a chance to speak to ex-felons a few days ago at Portland’s Londer Center for Learning. The topic? Voting. The discussion was a sharp reminder of how important personal contact and community is to our political system. There are no ads stating that ex-felons and those with misdemeanors on their record can vote in the State of Oregon, but its true. There is little to no media coverage showing citizens how to work within the confines of new voter registration and id laws in several states. The only way such matters get entertained is through personal contact. And that is what this election season is all about.

There is a need now more than ever for all of us to get involved beyond placing our ballots. Registering voters and communicating your parties position on matters. If you have no party, then the charge of getting neighbors, co-workers, family and friends to be registered voters is your charge. Knocking on doors and making sure that all Americans exercise the right that many White, Black, Latino, Asian, Democratic and Republican Americans have died and been persecuted for decades to earn. The divisiveness and racial tones of this election season are an embarrassment to the history of the voting rights cause and the founding of this nation. Lest we not forgot that settlers came here in search of a new world, and its not because their homelands were that awesome that they just had to step away and get a breather from its awesomeness. There was religious persecution, famine, real class warfare, cultural divides and human atrocities that drove families to cross uncharted waters in search of better, freer lives. Let us not forget that “We hold these truths self-evident, that all men are created equal…” Let us also never forget the stories of struggle and sacrifice that led to the following Amendments.

Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude

Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920.

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Passed by Congress March 23, 1971. Ratified July 1, 1971.

Note: Amendment 14, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 1 of the 26th amendment.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

We have all been blessed with the ability to vote regardless of any of our racial, cultural, financial, sexual orientation, age or gender differences. Being a citizen of the United States is our only qualification. Don’t let anyone take your right away. Don’t let anyone make it harder to exercise your right. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking your right to vote doesn’t matter or that it wont make a difference. This year, even if its your first year doing so. VOTE.



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