Tag Archives: universal suffrage

Voting Rights and Wrongs

There is much to be said about voting, and not all of it is pleasant. Because I am neither a political scientist nor an attorney, I do not pretend to any specialized knowledge. Because I want people to be able to vote twice you can vote in my poll now that you have had, or soon will have, the opportunity to vote at your polling place in the United States. Unless of course, for a variety of reasons, you are disenfranchised, which means you do not have the right to vote.

Because I don’t want to read anything offensive, and because I doubt that many of the other folks who follow or visit my blog wish to read anything offensive either, please keep your comments civil in tone as well as language. I will moderate comments.

Nobody thinks much about the voting age here, but in some countries, it is as young as 16.

Nobody thinks much about a woman’s right to vote in the United States, but not all of our grandmothers had that right. Women were only given the right to vote in 1920 in the United States, when the Senate voted to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Speaking only of the industrialized Western World, fantastically enough, Switzerland did not give women the right to vote in national elections until 1971, and in some cantons (they are like states or provinces) women were not given the right to vote in local elections until 1990. The right of all people to vote is called universal suffrage, but the term doesn’t really mean everybody, there are many exceptions. Historically, the term universal suffrage applied only to men.

We are mistaken, if we believe that universal suffrage exists in the United States. Anyone who has seen the news or read a newspaper thinks a lot about voting rights and race because our legal system has disenfranchised a huge segment of the population: In most states, previously convicted felons, who have served their time, commonly known as having “paid their dues to society,” can do just about anything but vote. Why might that be? Well, it might be because you are an African-American male in Virginia where 1 out of 5 African-American males do not have the right to vote, and politicians do not want you to vote. Why might that be? To my knowledge, felons who have served their time can only vote in the states of Vermont and Maine.

Is the disenfranchisement of a large segment of the population by race and gender fair? What do you think? Why? If you decide to answer, please let me know whether you are from Virginia and whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, an Independent, or a member of another political party. Virginia has been a Republican state in recent years, but that may be changing, possibly as soon as this very evening. Again, my statistics are not based on my own research. Please check the Pew Forum, Gallup Poll, or some other similar organization, for what might be considered authoritative statistics.

In New Jersey, we are voting on whether to raise the minimum wage. On behalf of all “hard-working” minimum wage workers and their families, I have voted to raise the minimum wage, even though it will still not provide a true living wage in a state with a high cost-of-living. And, by the way, I think even those who don’t work extremely hard–who is the judge of who is working hard and not working hard?–should also benefit from a small increase in the minimum wage in New Jersey from the current minimum wage of $7.25 to “at least $8.25 an hour.” What is all this rhetoric about working hard, anyway?! Are people supposed to suffer to earn the minimum wage? Why not work the right amount, not work when overtired, not work when sick, and be healthier and happier? Here’s to a healthier, happier, more equitable world! That’s why I vote. Do you vote?