When the Constitution was written, only white male property owners (about 10 to 16 percent of the nation’s population) had the vote. Over the past two centuries, though, the term “government by the people” has become a reality. During the early 1800s, states gradually dropped property requirements for voting. Later, groups that had been excluded previously gained the right to vote. Other reforms made the process fairer and easier. Still, many young people will NOT get off of their A@@ and vote!
Growing up the descendant of Mississippi & Georgia sharecroppers, I was made to appreciate the power of the vote – early on.
There were conversations about the passage of three constitutional amendments, the 14th, 15th and 24th, before all Black Americans could freely vote in the U.S. Black folks weren’t given the right to vote in the U.S. until 1869.
In 2011, a record number of voting restrictions that disproportionately affected Blacks were introduced in state legislatures nationwide, including photo ID requirements, cuts to early voting and restrictions to voter registration. You can read more about that here.
Black voter turnout two years ago was nearly 70 percent but election analysts mainly attribute this to President Barack Obama’s name on the ballot.
According to United States census data, over 66 percent of registered Black voters went to the polls for the November 2012 election. That’s two percent higher than registered White voters, and nearly six percent higher than U.S. voters overall.
African Americans, along with unmarried women, youth voters and other voters of color also make up a rising population of eligible voters, according to a 2013 Voter Participation Center report. Together, this group makes up more than half the eligible U.S. voting population, and yet Black voters still don’t vote in proportion to that population, the report said.
So, with no high-profile Black candidate, why should Black voters care this election year? Because a battle was waged, tears were shed, blood was spilled and lives were lost so that you could have the right.
Get off your A@@ – VOTE!