To-day, alike are great and small,
The nameless and the known;
My palace is the people’s hall,
The ballot-box, my throne!
–John Greenleaf Whittier, American poet (1807–1892)
In the United States, Election Day is today, Tuesday, November 5, 2019.
To establish voting conformity throughout the country, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is deemed Election Day. Voting for our highest offices, President, Vice President, and the US Congress occur every four years and always on an even year. The US House of Representatives and Senate are held every two years. Length of terms vary; the President and Vice President may serve one or two four-year terms while the House of Representatives are elected to serve two-year terms, and the Senators, two from each state, serve six-year terms. To establish a baseline, the election of the six-year terms are staggered so that only one-third of the Senators are elected in each election cycle. The Senate is considered the upper chamber while the House of Representatives is considered the lower chamber of the United States Congress. The number of elected officials in the House of Representatives is based on each state’s population which is reapportioned every ten years.
The right to vote, enfranchisement, was not automatic for all citizens, requiring several amendments to the US Constitution to establish this as a right of every US citizen.
- The 15th Amendment, 1870, granted the voting rights to African Americans but it wasn’t until the 1960s that this became a reality.
- The 17th Amendment, 1913, changed the method of electing senators. Originally, they were elected by each state’s legislature. Senators are now elected by popular vote.
- The 19th Amendment, 1920, removed gender status; all women were granted the right to vote.
- The 24th Amendment, 1964, removed the requirement to pay a poll tax, ending disenfranchised by a lack of money for all citizens.
- The 26th Amendment, 1971, lowered the voting age to eighteen from twenty-one.
Self-care Ritual: take time to study the issues and vote because the right to vote is the basis of our democracy. There are twenty-seven amendments to the Constitution and almost twenty percent relate to voting – it’s very important to exercise your right to vote; it’s a privilege.