Our government was founded on democratic principles. Our voting process was created to give everyone an equal voice in the policy that governs our country. The right to vote has had a tumultuous past. Throughout the years, many people have fought and sacrificed their lives to ensure EVERYONE has the right to vote.
- 15th Amendment – African Americans were given the right to vote in 1870
- 19th Amendment – Women were given the right to vote in 1920
- The Voting Rights Act – enacted in 1965, overturned decades of racial discrimination
- 26th Amendment – gave 18 year olds the right to vote in 1971
- The “Motor Voter Act” – passed in 1993, made it easier than ever for people to register to vote
Ironically, as voting rights have improved, fewer and fewer Americans are exercising that right. On average, 40% of the voting population casts a vote in non-presidential elections. In comparison, democracies in Europe consistently have voter turnout rates as high as 90%. Idahoans must not take the right to vote for granted.
It’s easy to forget the importance of voting, and how powerful even a single vote can be. Did you know:
- In 1776, one vote gave America the English language instead of German
- In 1845, one vote saved Andrew Jackson from impeachment
- In 1876, one vote gave Rutherford B. Hayes the Presidency of the United States
- In 1923, one vote gave Adolf Hitler the leadership of the Nazi Party
- In 2002, Idaho Democrats Bonnie Douglas in District 5 and Allen Andersen in District 29 each won by 27 votes
- In 2004, Idaho Democrat, Sean Spence, lost by 9 votes in District 17
- In 2010, Idaho Democrat, Janie Ward-Engleking, lost by 8 votes in District 18
Our votes can and do change our history.