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I Just Want a Voice

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Aspasia of Athens guaranteed it to all citizens over two-thousand years ago. The Romans attempted to preserve it. America even fought a war for it. Today, many countries in the Middle East strive for it.

What is it? It is what enables the people to change their government, to change the way that people think, to change the world. It is the fundamental advantage of democracy. It is one crucial right: the freedom for all citizens to vote.



Ever since I was a little girl, my greatest dream was to vote; to take part in revolutionary turning points in America. (Other people wanted to be princesses when they grew up. I wanted to be a democratically-elected Senator.) For me, voting was more than a right. It was an obligation to me, to society, to the whole of the country.



Now, however, voting in America’s democracy is not a right. Many swing states – the crucial states Obama and Romney will be battling over – have passed voter suppression laws. In Florida, new restrictions have eliminated Sunday voting in a state where poor African-Americans traditionally vote after church. In Ohio, a key swing state, the Justice Department overturned early voting restriction measures in a state where three out of ten ballots are cast early. In Texas, you can vote with a license for a firearm yet not with a student ID.



These measures will not affect the wealthy politicians that enact these laws. These laws dissuade the young, the poor, and minorities from voting. Twenty-one million US citizens, most of them disenfranchised, do not have the necessary IDs required by Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. A full eleven percent of the total number of US citizens cannot vote for president.



And yet, the number of in-person voter fraud cases? One case per every 14.6 million voters.



These laws are not only unnecessary. These laws sabotage the very meaning of democracy. To comply with the new law, universities are issuing IDs that provide the necessary information, for which students are required to pay. Students are required to pay for the “right” to vote.

No wonder over half of the eligible 18 to 24-year-old citizens choose not to vote. These laws say to us hopeful, wannabe voters, “Politics is ruled by wealthy, old, white men. They don’t care about you, or what you have to contribute to the world. So just shut up and follow their rules.”

Please. I just want a voice.



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