When I was growing up, I can still remember listening to my Mother and Father in the kitchen heatedly arguing about who had voted for whom. They believed one or the other had canceled their vote. My mother was against the repeal of prohibition, and my father was not. So I do not, to this day, tell anyone about my vote.
Since I am writing this before the 2014 election day, I do not know the outcome. I do know, however, I will have fulfilled my responsibility as a citizen of the greatest country on earth. I firmly believe in my obligation to vote and the power of my vote. It might not be the one vote that will be responsible for the outcome, nor might it be what I personally desire, but it is still important.
Why do I vote? Because I can. Because I want to. And because I should. I am an American citizen, and this is my right and my privilege. I live in the greatest country of the world. It has its problems, but no other country can offer me the advantages of freedom, education, free enterprise and just plain beauty. I am exceedingly thankful I was born in this country and have had such wonderful opportunities as a citizen.
I also have a responsibility and obligation to exercise and participate as a citizen by voting to retain those values I hold dear. There are many claims of how one vote elected, deposed or won a vital process. Many have been disproved, but I still believe my one vote is important. I am fulfilling my responsibility as an American citizen, setting an example for others, and showing my gratitude for being an American.
As we await the final count, (or perhaps we already know the results) the ringing of the telephones, continual ads on TV and the uncalled for character detractions hopefully are finished.
Voting in America has a long and colorful history. Our Constitution, with oversight by the federal government, gave each state the right to determine its own mechanism of voting. The result has been characterized as a "patchwork" for the states from its inception through complaints of the 2014 election process. There are differing opinions among the states and territories in determining who has the right to vote.
In 1776, during the second Continental Congress, Abigail Adams entreated her husband, John Adams, to "remember the ladies" in the new code of laws he was writing. However, property, male gender and color remained as important determinants.
The words of the Civil Rights Act passed in 1866 and the 14th Amendment stated: "All persons born in the United States are now citizens, without regard to race, color or previous condition of servitude." This still did not grant women the right to vote.
On Feb. 3, 1870, the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. It declared citizens could not be denied the right to vote based on "race, color or previous condition of servitude." Women went to the polls but were still not allowed to vote because the gender-neutral language was not specific. Attention was given to the abolishment of slavery and preservation of the union rather than the right of women's suffrage. Black males were given the right to vote, but in some Southern states, restrictions such as taxes, literacy and residency requirements remained in place to prevent them from voting.
The states and territories continued referendums and voting for or against allowing women the vote or suffrage. Throughout the nation, women's rights to vote remained questionable. Finally, on Aug. 19, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. Suffrage for women was guaranteed with these words: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."
Reformers of the system worked diligently in the past to come up with a system for our country to assist more citizens to vote. Amendments and acts were enacted for American Indians, blacks, illiterate citizens, those living in Washington, D.C., and the right for 18-year-olds to vote. Accessibility for the elderly, the handicapped and the disabled were enacted. "System reformers" rightly or wrongly continue to scrutinize the right to vote. Hopefully this will not prevent American citizens the privilege of voting.
May we realize and be thankful for the blessings we have received in the past and in the future. Values are not without cost -- nor is freedom free from responsibility.
Thank you for voting. God bless America. And thank you to our veterans, our servicemen and women and families who help to keep America free.
Ruth Moriarity is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.