National Voter Registration Day
It is that time of year when campaign ads saturate the airwaves of all radio stations, televisions and ticker across the screens of our online searches. Candidates spend millions of dollars to ensure that their names, ideas and faces are burned into the depths of our brains. Counties spend countless hours training staff for Election Day to ensure that everyone gets an equal opportunity to vote.
Many citizens take this wonderful and precious right for granted, but access to the polls was not – and for many eligible voters, still is not – a given.
The Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that,” no person shall be denied the right to vote based on race, color or previous condition of servitude.” It was ratified in 1870, but after the civil war and Reconstruction era, many states created laws that caused dangerous situations at the voting polls to deter African Americans from participating in voting, like creating poll taxes and administering literacy tests. Finally in 1965, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, which helped to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment by outlawing discriminatory voting practices.
The Nineteenth Amendment “prohibits any citizen from being denied the right to vote based on sex.” The Amendment was ratified in 1920, but it is speculated that Lydia Taft was the first woman in America to vote in 1756. This was a great feat in American history, because it showed that women who had help build and contribute to this country could have a say in the manner that it would be governed. It is also one of the few examples of polls being more inclusive than they were strictly required to be under law.
Throughout America’s history, there have been numerous situations where many citizens of this country were blocked from exercising their right to vote. Even now, many eligible voters are denied this right. States across the country are passing voter suppression laws under the pretext of preventing voter fraud and safeguarding election integrity.
Many states, including Nevada, have extremely confusing and complicated laws about how individuals with a criminal conviction can restore their right to vote. Most ex-felons do not realize that they can have their voting rights restored in Nevada if they were only convicted of one non-violent felony and were unconditionally released after serving their full sentence or were honorably discharged from felony parole or probation. Documents needed to reinstate voting rights can be obtained from a parole or probation officer.
U.S. citizens also need to understand that there is no language requirement to vote. Language assistance is available in many Nevada counties, or you can bring a translator with you to the voting booth.
Today, September 25, is National Voter Registration Day. Take a minute to make sure you are registered to vote, and if you aren't, go register. The in-person registration deadline in Nevada is October 16.
If you want more information or have more detailed questions about your voting rights, you can check out www.aclunv.org/vote. If you have any problems while you are at the polls in November, we would like to hear about your issues.
Remember the Constitution for the 100%, so get out and register to vote!