Let’s face it, it’s easy to take voting for granted. Most of us have grown up enjoying full access to this vital cornerstone of democracy. Outside the classroom, we pay little mind to the pioneering struggles that made it possible.
It’s difficult to fully appreciate, for example, the decades of heroic organizing, unrelenting advocacy, and personal sacrifice that defined the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Just as it’s difficult to imagine what it was like to be an outspoken advocate for African-American voting rights in the lead up to the Civil War, when it meant risking your life if you were Black, or at least your livelihood if you weren’t.
An ongoing battle for voters’ rights
Those of a certain age remember all too well how viciously the civil rights battle was still being fought 100 years after the Civil War ended, until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 finally settled the issue - fully 189 years after the American experiment had begun.
But whether you lived through the civil rights era or only know about it from history books, it’s easy to lose touch with just how tenuous each generation’s hold on democracy can be, and how jagged the line of progress is.
We tend to forget, for instance, that women and free Black men had their voting rights revoked in the early 1800s after being free to exercise them for years in certain states. Imagine being in their shoes at the time, losing such a fundamental right and the dignity that came with it, and then dying without ever knowing future generations would someday reclaim it.
Even now, those who seek to maintain or achieve power through voter disenfranchisement pose a grave threat to these hard-won rights. And it remains the duty of every voter to resist them. We do that with every vote we cast.
One voice, one vote
This simple act. This privilege we’re afforded to partake in the democratic process after all the noise has settled and the arguments have been made. This seemingly small but immeasurably mighty gesture so loaded with meaning and power. This gift bestowed upon us by those giants of our past.
This is what makes every election the most important election in history. Each one is a new test of our continued commitment to the fragile institution of democracy. A chance to keep the torch burning for the next generation.
It’s what makes our country work. It’s what makes our union work. And like our union, the more participation we have, the stronger our country gets.
So, come Nov. 3, make it count. Go to www.schoolhouseballot.com to find the candidates who have made a commitment to protecting public education and vote for them. Because this election, like every one before and after it, matters.
Election season is always an exciting time in Pennsylvania. As one of the few states with the power to decide this next election, it remains an open question which way the commonwealth will break.
Here’s what’s happened before.
✰ In the last 50 years, Pennsylvania has voted eight times for Democratic governors and five times for Republican governors.
✰ The Pennsylvania State Senate has been under Republican control for 105 of the last 120 years.
✰ The State House has been under Republican control for 82 of the last 120 years.
✰ Pennsylvanians voted Democratic in seven out of 12 presidential elections, including the six consecutive elections before 2016.
✰ Since 1900, the commonwealth voted for a Democratic president 43 percent of the time and a Republican 53 percent of the time.
✰ But from 2000 to 2016, Pennsylvania voted for a Democratic president 80 percent of the time and a Republican 20 percent of the time.