Eligible and registered to vote!
In a country where one can become President without even winning the popular vote, it should give pause to those citizens and perhaps encourage folks to take a closer look at the election and voting practices within their sphere of influence.Taken as a whole, the study of elections, conventions and voting procedures is interesting and worth exploring further. Some authorities point to questionable practices and longstanding political machines that would cause most people not involved in the everyday workings of government to cringe. Even so, our great country continues to evolve as a world power, despite the many local and national recalls, recounts and scandalous affairs.
In Colonial America, when elections were held, votes were cast by voice in large community gatherings. Eventually, citizens persuaded lawmakers to abandon the open-air forums in favor of using secret ballots so everyone could choose freely without fear of negative repercussions stemming from their personal preferences. That scenario is a demonstration of democracy at work, how each voice counts and can make a difference on decisive issues. When a large enough number of the population decides a proposition should pass, ideally, the majority opinion should prevail.
When the Constitution was written, it was intended to afford fairness and equality to all, with each eligible person able to cast his vote on issues as well as individual leaders. Compromises were a way of life, based on law and order for the good of the masses. Many aspects of elections and voting are exactly how our forefathers designed them. However, several Constitutional Amendments significantly change what we now would consider archaic practices. For example, it was not until the 19th Amendment in 1920 that women in the United States, approximately half the adult population, were even allowed to vote. Many other adaptations have occurred in the last 200-plus years, generally, with the intent of serving the best interest of all members of the community.
Today, in order to be eligible to register to vote in any state, you must be a United States citizen, 18 years of age on or before the next election, with a permanent address within the United States. If you have been convicted of a felony, you must have had your rights restored before you may register to vote. If you have moved to a new county, you must complete another voter registration application. No one should register in two or more counties or states. In areas where at least five percent of the constituents speak a language other than English, ballots are required to be in that language. Some other interesting facts about the election process include the recall procedures which are activated when the population becomes dissatisfied with the elected official’s performance. The right to contest an election is created by statute, and currently there are 26 states which authorize some form of recall voting policies. The Governor of California was recently recalled and ousted from office under this process.
The voting procedures also take into consideration our active military personnel. If one is a member of the armed forces stationed overseas, voting can take place by absentee ballot. The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense is responsible for administering the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.This law provides that members of the U.S. uniformed services and merchant marines and their family members may vote absentee while away from their place of voting residence, wherever stationed, within or outside the United States.
Voting is an essential component of a democratic society. People vote on issues as well as individuals to govern their communities. With a stable economy, incumbents tend to stay in office and the political scene remains virtually unchanged. When the economy is less stable, new candidates are more likely to win elections and gain entry to public offices. Regardless of the general state of affairs, and despite inequality in wealth, power and dignity, people rarely demand change. Many cultures accept their lot in life as a perpetual condition, especially those too busy earning a living wage to engage in politics. But voting can be a mechanism for progress and improvement. In a democratic society, if enough of a particular group chooses to petition and put a referendum on a local ballot, the first step toward a more desirable way of life has been taken.
Power in local cities can be used in many ways. Elections and voting afford individuals the opportunity to have a say in the political forces which govern their neighborhoods. However, many maneuvers and schemes can affect the outcomes of elections, regardless how hard the constituents try to avoid them. Some of the dishonest voting practices that exist include bribing voters, impersonating other voters, stuffing ballot boxes with forged votes, and/or tampering with voting machines, to name a few examples. Of course all of the above offenses provide for severe penalties, as a matter of law.
In the 2004 primary elections, electronic voting was used in many places. Many critics are very skeptical of the software and hardware used in e-voting, citing software bugs and hackers as major problems with the methods and machines. Diebold, Inc. is one of the equipment suppliers for the paperless touch-screen machines. Computer malfunctions were responsible for many delays and alleged breaches of integrity in some of the counties where the machines were used. The company has been sued on account of their defective products, which makes one wonder about the reliability and veracity of the results of such election processes.
In the same way that private goals are achieved, a more serious look at local politics may reveal how voters in a community could elect to shape the physical structure of their city. Their voices alone, through the voting mechanism, are enough to drive economic forces, such as expensive public works projects, the mobilization of banks and labor unions, as well as handling of insurance issues.
This November, it would be wonderful if all eligible voters went to the polls. If you are a citizen who is registered to vote, why not use your voice to have a say in who will lead our country for the next four years, as well as having input into the development and expansion of the facilities, services and amenities that are offered in your community? Our Constitution says, of the People, by the People, and for the People, and voting is one step toward fulfilling our wishes and dreams, while continuing to be the United, as opposed to divided, States of America.
Eligible and registered to vote! test
- How many days did it take to determine the results of the 2000 election?
a) 48 b) 36 c) 28 d) 16
- Ballots are required to be in a language other than English in areas where at least ____ percent of the population/constituents speak another language.
a) 5 b) 10 c) 25 d) 50
- Which two states were first for the 2004 primaries?
A) Florida and California b) New York and New Jersey c) Iowa and New Hampshire d) Michigan and Maine
- A political party is a) a caucus b) a convention c) a festive affair d) a group of people working to promote ideals and candidates
- The second governor in all of US history to face a recall vote was a) Ronald Reagan b) Gray Davis c) Richard Nixon d) Rudy Gulliano
- The provisions governing federal elections are found in a) jury charge b) the 1st Amendment c) the Bible d) the U.S. Constitution
- Which Amendment eliminated racial barriers?
a) 15th b) 1st c) 5th d) 19th
- Which Amendment eliminated gender barriers and gave equal voting rights to women? a) 15th b) 19th c) 5th d) 1st
- In what year was the 26th Amendment passed, which lowered the voting age nationally to 18 years old? A) 1959 b) 1967 c) 1971 d) 1985
- Right to contest an election is created by a) electoral college b) amendment to the Constitution c) statute d) none of the above
- How many states authorize some form of recall voting policies? A) 26 b) 50 c) 15 d) 49
- What is suffrage? A) aches and pains b) a minority group c) political parties d) right to vote
- The name of the voting machine used in several states in the 2004 primary election is manufactured by a) Gerrymander b) Diebold c) Registrar of Voters d) IBM
- A convention is an organized assemblage of registered voters representing an independent candidate or a minor political party. A) true b) false
- The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense is responsible for administering the election recall processes. A) true b) false
- You must be _____ years of age to be eligible to vote. A) 15 b) 16 c) 18 d) 21
- Some of the problems that Diebold faced with electronic voting machines include: a) software bugs b) hackers c) computer malfunctions d) all of the above.
- Actions that can be taken to improve local facilities include: a) stuffing ballot boxes b) tampering with voting machines c) impersonating voters d) petitions and referendums
- Voting can be enough to drive economic forces, such as expensive public works projects, the mobilization of banks and labor unions, as well as handling of insurance issues. A) true b) false
- A democratic society does not tolerate voting by individuals. A) true b) false