Editorial: Raise your voice, cast your vote
We were all born with a voice. We were not automatically granted the right to use it. That came by standing up and demanding it.
When America was a colony, we had the rights that England gave us. We weren’t satisfied with that. We demanded a say in how we were taxed and why and how much. We fought a war for that right and ended up starting not just a new nation but a new way of government built on those raised voices.
When the United States was born, the states decided who got to vote. Most said you have to be a white man who owned property. It took two years for the first state to change that. It took 57 years for the others to catch up, but by 1856, every state had decided you didn’t need to own your own roof to speak your own mind.
Free black men were first granted their vote in states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but it wasn’t until 1870 — after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation and the assassination of the president who signed it — that the right of all men to vote, regardless of color, was formalized with the 15th Amendment.
Women would wait another 52 years. It wasn’t a war that bought that right. It was women refusing to stay silent when they were consigned to prison and locked in insane asylums for daring to say they believed “all men are created equal” was an incomplete thought.
At every stage that votes have been held back, they have been purchased with blood and bravery.
And yet not everyone votes. Not everyone who can registers and not everyone who registers shows up.
In 2016 in Pennsylvania, there were 9.7 million people aged 18 and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There were 6.1 million votes cast that year, with record turnout.
What about the rest?
The right to vote is precious and should be treated with respect and responsibility. For 250 years, people have died to make sure that everyone had the right to make their voices heard in a nation built on the very idea that raised voices change the world.
You were born with a voice. Use it. Polls are open until 8 p.m. Tuesday.