By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
If you’re on social media or interact with media in any sort of way, you’ve probably seen the posts, commercials and celebrity endorsements urging people to vote. And if you choose any moment in life to listen to an advertisement this would be it.
Voting is an essential part of our country. It is how actions become laws and movements become revolutionary. If people didn’t vote, nothing would get done because there would be no elected officials to put words into action and no clear direction.
Through the simple act of casting a ballot, the citizens of the United States have the power to elect government officials and dictate their course of action. It’s why it’s called a democracy: for the people, by the people and of the people.
As important as voting is to this country, it wasn’t always a guaranteed right for everybody. In fact, the only people granted that right originally were white males.
The first election held in the United States of America was in 1789. At the time, only white men who owned property could vote. It remained that way for nearly 80 years later, until non-white men and freed male slaves were granted the right to vote. By 1920 women were included and four years later so were Native Americans. And finally, in 1965, minority voters received protection to exercise their right to vote.
It took over one-hundred years for everybody to receive what should have been his or her from the start.
While the facts may not interest some the truth of the matter is, that people fought for their right to vote. They didn’t take no for answer. They marched, they rallied and eventually they changed the laws. When they were finally granted the opportunity to vote, they took advantage of it.
Nowadays, people aren’t so quick to run to their polls. They forget the struggle and the fight that their ancestors took part in to ensure them and every generation to come would have the right to vote. When we forget, we do a disservice to the men and women who came before use. When we choose not to vote, we let down a legacy.
Everybody who is eligible to vote should exercise their right to vote. When people vote, they honor the fight of those who came before. When people vote, they get a say in what happens to this country. When people vote, goals are achieved.
This year, there’s no excuse not to vote. Anyone who is 18-years old or older is an American citizen and has a photo ID can vote. The official election day occurs on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Early voting will occur until Nov. 4 and Wisconsin residents can register to vote on election day.
To learn more about who’s on your ballot or where to early vote or vote go to myvote.wi.gov. Make a habit out of voting.
This article originally appeared in The Madison Times.