Who says that voting has to be a mind-numbing, plodding civic duty? If only you knew more about how your right to vote came about, you’d probably do it more often! This week brings about Election Day in the United States. And so, it’s my patriotic duty to provide you with interesting tidbits about voting. Please re-post this early and often…
When You Vote, You Vow To…: “Vote” comes from the Latin word “votum,” which translates into a “vow, wish, promise, or dedication.” The modern use of the word is attributed to the mid-1500s. Earlier than that, if you “voted” to defend your fair lady’s honor, you vowed to take on that deed.
Voting in Ancient Rome Was a Rocky Experience: “Ballot” comes from the Italian word “ballotta,” meaning “little ball.” In one early method of voting, Roman soldiers cast small rocks or marbles into helmets that doubled as portable ballot boxes. Those wealthy, well-off members of the Roman Senate also used beans (in case their slaves got hungry?) or colored balls to vote, rather than using their thumbs Coliseum style.
A Parliament Is a Talking and Voting Place: During the medieval ages, the concept of a voting parliament developed from the “council of the king” in many Western European countries (and particularly, in England). This “place for speaking” comes from the French verb “parler.” Parliament was summoned whenever the king required it so he could make legal judgements, like annulling marriages and beheading wives for treason. I’m not mentioning any names…
John Adams Was No Women’s (or Other Type of) Libber: This famous signer of the Declaration of Independence (and 2nd American president) was all for limiting voting rights to white, property-owning males age 21 and older. In fact, he’s on record as writing this in 1776:
“Depend upon it, Sir, it is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters; there will be no end to it. New claims will arise; women will demand the vote; lads from 12 to 21 will think their rights not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to one common level.”
The Suffrage Movement Was an Almost 100-Year Slog: Decades before the Civil War, all white men could finally vote, regardless of how much wealth or property they owned, but not the ladies (or slaves). The suffrage movement emerged in 1848 from a gathering in Seneca Falls, New York. Like-minded gals (and even a few progressive gents) were invited there by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott.
Alice Paul and other brave suffragettes finally helped achieve the right for women to vote in August, 1920. But the U.S. wasn’t the first country to grant voting rights to adult women. This enlightened honor belongs to…New Zealand, September 19th, 1893 – go Kiwis!
The Voting Rights Act (VRA) Keeps on Keeping On: This 1965 bill banning racial discrimination in voting practices at all levels of government has been reauthorized by Congress five times since its signing into law. It was most recently reauthorized in 2006. The law offers U.S. citizens key protections, including: second language assistance, Election Day monitoring, and Department of Justice pre-approval for voting changes. Be advised the VRA will be up for renewal again in 2031…
Your Vote Counts – Never Think Otherwise: You might think this sounds hokey, or trite, or Homer Simpson-like (“D’oh!”), but it’s true – there IS power in your one vote. If you don’t believe me, read the Poet Patriot’s inspirational web page.
No obligatory open-ended questions, and no genteel, gauzy requests from me to you. Regardless of your political persuasion, get out and VOTE this week!
Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing copy. Call her (856-810-9764) or email her (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a no-obligation project quote today!