On August 6 1965, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. August 6, 2015 will mark the 50th year anniversary since African American citizens overcame the prevention of the right to vote, and obtained the right to be seen as equal. The Act was signed to create long-lasting change, however questions remain on whether or not people have taken full advantage of what was obtained or whether or not our vote matters.
Constantly, Americans from all walks of life are told, “Every Vote Counts.” This statement, however, seems to be very flawed. Although many officials and public leaders urge citizens to allow their voice to be heard through traditional voting processes, many have argued that the votes of citizens will certainly not determine the outcome of any elections.
November of every presidential election year, many citizens will wake up early to stand in long lines, and check boxes that indicate their personal preference of who should be chosen for election. Many question whether this act makes impact or whether it is done for pure participation.
Voting rates are historically higher than present voting rates. Statistics report that the 2014 national voting rate was 41.9 percent, compared to that of the 2012 voting rate which was reported at 61.8 percent.
Statistics show that among the population of voters the younger crowds are the least likely to vote. According to voting reports, the 2014 U.S voting record of citizens ranging from 18-24 year olds only made up 17.1 percent of the voting population, while 59.4 of citizens 65 and older where reported voters.
In a recent controversial discussion President Barack Obama presented the idea of mandatory voting. He indicated that mandatory voting laws would completely change the nation and went on to note that it would be a “better strategy in the short term.”
President Obama and many other leaders look at voting as a form of responsibility and ultimately an act of pride for the nation. Voting is something that was not always a privilege for everyone, and award winning actress Kerry Washington believes that as a culture and nation the act of voting should be taken advantage of. Washington states that “people are trying to take away the rights that our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers fought for: our right to vote.” Washington believes that in this era where we have the right to speak up we should do so.
The probability of one vote being the deciding factor for an election with a turnout of 200,000 voters is roughly 1 in 10,000. While there are many who utilize this as an excuse not to vote, there are many who understand that the chance of a single vote impacting an election is slight; however they believe it to be still a chance that everyone should take.
Alabama State Trooper Jimmy Lee Jackson was just one of the many African Americans who died in the fight for equality in 1965. On this 50th anniversary, the passing of the act as well as the many courageous citizens who sacrificed themselves and fought to claim equality for not only themselves, but also for the generations to come should be celebrated.
When the past is analyzed and all the sacrifices made and over comings accomplished are in plain sight, it is only right for the current and future generation to show appreciation by utilizing and taking advantage of the things that weren’t historically obtainable. Voting is one of those things that leaders believe that citizens (especially African Americans) should take full advantage of.
During this VRA 50th Anniversary, we can evaluate the painful and difficult over comings of the past as well as the present. Although there have been many controversial debates on voting, leaders urge citizens to vote not only for leaders that carry potential but also for the pending progress of our nation. Leaders who urge citizens to vote want the people of this nation to put their hand into political movements to contribute to the change that is still to come.