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For many, the right to vote was won only after many battles over many years

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Posted: Sunday, November 2, 2008 10:00 pm

Suffrage - the right to vote in a political election. On the eve of our nation's Election Day, I thought it would be important to examine this right because for many of you, this right has not always been absolute and I don't think it should be taken lightly.

No, I'm not talking about reading your voter pamphlet from front to back so you can be informed. Rather, I am just talking about the right to vote.

If you are about my age, 44, or younger, I am sure you look at voting somewhat like getting your license to drive. You turn 18, you register to vote and on Election Day you vote or you don't. No big deal. History, however, says it is a big deal and it also shows that a lot of people don't care about it.

Until preparing for this column, I thought that the United States Constitution guaranteed voting, and it does - but it's not that simple. It took four amendments to the Constitution, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and a 1966 Supreme Court decision for the Constitution to guarantee suffrage for everyone. So, the Constitution was nearly 180 years old and was amended 24 times before all citizens had suffrage.

People without suffrage fought for it and for that, I think you should vote. I don't care who or what you vote for, just vote. Please don't say that your vote doesn't matter, because it does. Take a look at what it took to make sure you get to vote:

  • The 15th Amendment prohibits laws preventing a citizen from voting based on race, color or previous condition of servitude, slavery. While it was ratified in 1870, it took until 1997 for Tennessee to ratify it. Heck, California didn't come on board until 1962.
  • If you're a woman, you can thank those who fought for your rights, but they weren't successful until 1920. And even then it was with the minimum number of states approving it, 36 states out of the then 48. Those good folks in Mississippi didn't vote to ratify the 19th Amendment until 1984. Thank goodness it didn't matter.
  • If you were poor - black or white - your right to vote was not protected until 1966. That's right, 1966. Think about that. If you lived in Virginia in 1964 and were poor, whether you were black or white, you could have been prohibited from voting because of your inability to pay the poll tax. That was just 44 years ago.
  • For those of you in the 18 to 20 year range, you would have to wait a few more years to vote if not for the 26th Amendment, passed in 1971, so take advantage of it.

Tomorrow's election will be historic for our country regardless of the outcome. If you are a registered voter and choose not to vote, I bet you will be disappointed. It may take a week, a month or a year but I bet you will be disappointed. I know some of you won't be able to get to the polls and I am sorry.

The polls open tomorrow at 7 a.m. and they don't close until 8 p.m.

In the 2006 election, about 52 percent of the registered voters in San Joaquin County voted. In Lodi, the percentage was higher but not by much. We can and should do better.

John Johnson, CFA, is a Lodi-based business appraiser. Contact him at john@johnejohnson.com or at 369-1451.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • posted at 2:33 am on Sun, Nov 9, 2008.


    People in many nations around the globe live in deplorable conditions in their own country. Mexico has no monopoly on hard times. Much of it is due to the corrupt Mexican Government and corrupt drug trade. "Change begins from within, just as it will soon begin in America in 2009! Mexican citizens don't want to improve the way of live in their country thru "Changes to their government"! They want only to live here and illegal immigration saves time, money and paperwork!

  • posted at 2:30 am on Sun, Nov 9, 2008.


    Okay, ElectionYear, I concede to your viewpoint! Please send a letter to President Obama and ask him to remove our border and have express bus service on a 24 hour basis to bring them in. It is stupid to not let them enjoy A/C and rest stops and feels along the way! As for the rest of the world's immigrant, who, do to distance, cannot just enter "AT WILL" who desperately want to come to America, "They can just wait in line"!

  • posted at 1:26 am on Sun, Nov 9, 2008.


    Perhaps, T & C, if you took a course on the history of Mexican immigration, you would understand that these people, due to the deplorable conditions in their own country, have been easily and consistently used as human currency in the US. When we need them to fill labor shortages created by war (WWI/WWII) or other exclusionary policies (Chinese/Japanese immigration was restricted in the early 20th century), we welcome them, legal or not. When policies change and they are no longer needed, we rail against them and send them home. Research it and them comment on how many times we "needed" cheap Mexican labor to fill the void and how the US turned a blind eye to illegal immigration. As Carville has famously said, "It's the economy, stupid!"

  • posted at 9:10 am on Sat, Nov 8, 2008.


    "President-elect Barack Obama said during his news conference this afternoon that he has consulted with all the living ex-presidents, but added that "I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about doing any seances" with those who have passed away"!http://blogs.usatoday.com/onpolitics/2008/11/was-reagan-quip.htmlThis type of "Casual Rudeness" by the person who will soon be in the Whitehouse, if "Pulled on other Countries leaders"...is sure NOT to improve our relations with those countries or the world!"

  • posted at 6:10 am on Sat, Nov 8, 2008.


    "Because "Demo's represent "SOCIAL PROGRAMS"... it's not hard to see why they have "Abandoned" the the foundation of America, "Best explained" by President John F. Kennedy!"Ask not what your country can do for you... but rather, "What you can do for your country!"

  • posted at 1:47 am on Sat, Nov 8, 2008.


    " Prsident Elect Obama supported the most radical gun control agenda that's ever been imagined. He voted to ban single shot and double-barrel shotguns. He's voted to ban almost all hunting ammunition. He supported a 500 percent tax increase on guns and ammunition. So this guy is bad news when it comes to the Second Amendment Right to gun ownership. Up until now, The right to bear arms was a fundamental right of "We the people"! Time will tell if President Obama, will leave gun ownership laws alone, or if he will ensure only criminals, the military and the poilce can own guns! Saying he will not change The Second Amendment "Before he is elected, and then changing the Second Amendment thru the help of a more liberal Demo Senate, House and Supreme Court though are clearly two different things! "

  • posted at 3:26 am on Fri, Nov 7, 2008.


    Tell us all Election Year "Why you feel that the World's immigrant's seeking U.S. citizenship must stand in line and follow the steps required to become a legal citizen...EXCEPT MEXICO! What makes hispanics better then any other countries citizens who would like to be a legal U. S. Citizen? The Law is for everyone, no exceptions. You are part of the illegal immigration problem Election Year! Hispanics are welcome in America, just stand in the line and be patient like every country must do!

  • posted at 7:11 pm on Thu, Nov 6, 2008.


    Anyone tired of T&C's lies and hate speech? Get educated, please!

  • posted at 6:19 am on Thu, Nov 6, 2008.


    Total amnesty for illegals is not about hate! They refuse to leave and they refuse to lawfully file for citizenship! What is a country to do? Total amnesty solves the illegal immigration crisis because the rest of the world is forced by distance to obey our immigration laws to the letter! While I agree the time from application to citizenship should not be forever, it is the process we use at this time! The hispanic vote was critical to both candidates do you not agree OTH? A price had to be paid for securing 78% of the hispanic vote! That vote was cast and we have a new president! All we can do now is see what promises the President Elect chooses to follow thru on and what things, like so many other presidential candidates years past, was just to gain our vote! Thank you all for voting more times then in our history as a free nation!

  • posted at 6:14 am on Thu, Nov 6, 2008.


    Please give our president (12) months to prove me right or wrong! As for you eating your socks... please don't. Simply acknowledging what I have stated here is enough! " America has spoken and all I can do is pray you who voted DEMO voted with what is best for America instead of thinking about your wallets!"

  • posted at 2:54 am on Wed, Nov 5, 2008.


    T & CIf that actually happens with Hispanics I'll eat my socks. If it doesn't happen you go away from these blogs and find some where else to peddle your driveling hatred. Surely there has to be a place called I hate.com.

  • posted at 1:48 am on Tue, Nov 4, 2008.


    " The Reason 78% of hispanics will vote today for Obama is because he has promised to grant total Amnesty to 12 million illegal immigrants! That looks to me nothing but bribery for a vote! It shouldn't be a reason to elect someone to run our country when he is only a First Term Senator, with a "Bag of promises he won't fulfill"! You Demo voters will have 4 years to ponder as to why you followed his words of hope so foolishly!http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081104/pl_nm/us_usa_politics_poll_hispanics_2 "

  • posted at 7:45 am on Mon, Nov 3, 2008.


    You people see what I mean that the mentally incompetent shouldn`t be allowed to vote. How does one get Squalene out of Scrutiny? T & C appears to have hittin the bottle a little early today. You know how he gets around election time...

  • posted at 6:48 am on Mon, Nov 3, 2008.


    Scrutiny... I meant that post for you! "If Felons wanted to VOTE.... Then they SHOULD HAVE OBEYED THE LAW"!

  • posted at 6:47 am on Mon, Nov 3, 2008.


    Squalene... "If Felons wanted to VOTE.... Then they SHOULD HAVE OBEYED THE LAW"!

  • posted at 5:55 am on Mon, Nov 3, 2008.


    noone with a record should be able to vote. oh, they should give those who do vote a break on taxes as well. or at least a donut!!!!

  • posted at 4:34 am on Mon, Nov 3, 2008.


    Thanks for the correction JJ. That "mentally incompetent" thing is a bit of a grey area, especially here in Caifornia though! lol

  • posted at 3:51 am on Mon, Nov 3, 2008.


    Scrutiny - I am sorry but that only applies in some states. It does not apply in California. Go to www.sos.ca.gov and look. To vote in CA you must: be a citizen of the USA; be a resident of CA; be at least 18 or older on or before election day; not BE IN PRISON OR ON PAROLE FOR A FELONY; not have been declared mentally incompetent; and, not be serving a prison term.

  • posted at 3:15 am on Mon, Nov 3, 2008.


    Don`t forget that this country still discriminates against felons by not letting them vote. Even if they have paid their debt to society decades ago.

  • posted at 2:18 am on Mon, Nov 3, 2008.


    Jebus, go read Harvard law reviewes selction criteria for editors.Two editors from each of first-year class's seven sections (fourteen in all) are selected half by their first year grades and half by their scores on the writing competition. Another twenty are selected solely on their scores on the writing competition. The other seven to nine are selected by a discretionary committee, either to fulfill the review's race-based affirmative action program, to select students who just missed the cut by either of the other two processes, or by some other criteria as the committee sees fit.No affirmitive action as Havard, no way no how. Right, join the real world. I've said if before, research before engaging fingers, you people give small townies a bad name.

  • posted at 2:12 am on Mon, Nov 3, 2008.


    Wow, here come the Lib throwing out the racist and offensive comments when the truth is spoken. You admit that BO's mother was a welfare reciepient, ergo BO is a direct beneficiary of the welfare program. As far as the AA claim, when did BO go to school? Not now, but in the late 70/early 80. Who was talking about Harvard, but since you bring it up, yes I will say that BO got into Harvard on AA. He was not rich and his grades weren't good enough to qualifiy. Having gone to school at the same time, I have seen what was done in the name of AA. The ivy league schools were worse than anyone else. Bakke anyone? As far as the best and the brightest going to the ivy league, give me break, I've worked with a ton of them and they are a pompus bunch of elitists. You think BO feels your pain, just wait for the pain he is going to cause.

  • posted at 1:51 am on Mon, Nov 3, 2008.


    t jefferson, to refer to Barack Obama as "our first welfare/affirmitive action president" (sic) is patently racist and offensive. First, there is no evidence that Senator Obama ever received welfare benefits. Yes, his mother may have received welfare, but that was for his care while he was a child. Further, a charge that his success is based on affirmative action is an outrage. Senator Obama was chosen editor of the Law Review while at Harvard Law School, the most coveted law school position (at the nation's best law school) and one that recognizes a student with the highest grades and best writing and research skills. Ask any lawyer you know, and s/he will agree that no law student given entry to Harvard because of some racial quota, and not based on the student's own achievement, could possibly capture the post of Law Review editor.

  • posted at 1:32 am on Mon, Nov 3, 2008.


    John, you really need to write an article on the why's. In the early US, women, black, browns, purples, and blues were allowed to vote. Not unversially mind you, they had to show they met certian criteria. Those criteria were applied to everyone so in a sense they were fair. Why was it set up this way, becasue up to the 1920's democracy was something to be looked down upon in this country. Go look it up. Democracies were viewed (and I think this is happening now) as mob rule. Look at the above dates. When did things really go off the rails in this country and the welfare state get really entrenched. It will be interested what will happen in the next 20 years as we are about to elect our first welfare/affirmitive action president.


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