By: Nancy Metayer
Today marks Florida’s Primary Elections — and 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving all women the right to vote.
Voting rights in America have always been borne of struggle. The battles women fought 100 years ago for a constitutional right and against segregationist and discriminatory Jim Crow laws in the South echo in 2020 as we continue to work against voter suppression and for full access to the polls. The stakes have never been higher, and your vote counts more than ever.
The freedom to vote is your most important political power. At the start of our Republic, only white landowners could vote. Gradually, that opportunity was expanded to incorporate white male laborers, and women then gained full or partial suffrage in most states before winning the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1920, which authorized full and equal voting rights for women.
This Primary Election, Broward County has the ability to create real change. That change can happen with your vote.
In order to have a truly vibrant democracy, we need to take steps to ensure inclusive voting. These steps include both reducing barriers to voting, affirmative plans to mobilize potential voters, and implementing stronger protections of the right to vote.
While America has made significant progress in protecting and expanding voting, millions of eligible voters still do not cast a ballot. There are also far too many who face explicit or implicit barriers that prevent them from participating in our elections.
One clear example is the overwhelmingly approved Florida’s constitutional amendment to give returning citizens the right to vote, resulting in our state legislature passing a law requiring those individuals to pay the entirety of fines owed before they could register to vote – a modern-day poll tax.
In the midst of COVID-19, when individuals want to ensure health precautions and exercise their right to vote by mail – our postal service is under attack; leading to lingering fears that ballots will not arrive in time to be counted.
To be a truly representative democracy, we must strive for universal, fully inclusive voting. If we achieve this goal, our elected bodies will better reflect the diversity of our communities, including the viewpoints of many who do not currently have an equal voice in our democracy – which we all deserve.
Our diverse communities will be better served by the resulting policy outcomes that are so consequential in everyday life. So don’t take your vote for granted today. Pay it forward to the women and our ancestors who ensured we can exercise our rights.
We have a chance to make history in Broward County. Our primary elections have a huge impact on our daily lives, by casting your vote for the Sheriff, Public Defender, State Attorney, School Board Members, Clerk of Courts, Supervisor of Elections, State Representatives and Federal Representative you ensure your voice is heard. It all starts locally and with you.
Author Louis L’Amour said: “To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
This is the perfect opportunity to prove democracy works.
Nancy Metayer is an environmental scientist, a former member of the Broward County Soil and Water Conservation District. She graduated from Coral Springs Charter School, earned a bachelor of science in environmental science from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and a master’s of health science from Johns Hopkins University. She is a candidate for the City of Coral Springs Commission Seat 3.
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