Voting Matters

Voting is Your Right and


 Not a Spectator Sport


By James Grandone

Oct. 14, 2020 - Did you vote for president in 2016? Some 63 million voted Republican, while 66 million voted Democratic. Unfortunately, that is out of 200 million registered to vote, which means more people sat at home than voted for either political party.

Jim Grandone

Women, people who didn’t own land, African Americans, Immigrants and even Native Americans had to fight for years to get the right to vote. Because of the desire for universal suffrage, over past the centuries, we have evolved from a representative republic to a democratic republic or some hybrid thereof. It wasn’t easy to expand the right to vote. It took protests, riots and bloodshed. And still, there are those in government who want to make it difficult for us to cast a ballot.

Bear with me for a little history that doesn’t get taught much in schools today.
Although Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves and gave them rights, those rights were eroded after Reconstruction by Jim Crow laws and poll taxes.

Women won the right to vote by the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution 100 years ago, which passed after women marched and were arrested and beaten in the streets. The Fifteenth Amendment, which was passed in 1870, granted all U.S. citizens the right to vote regardless of race, however, it wasn't until the Snyder Act in 1924 that Native Americans could enjoy the rights granted by this amendment.

Many died fighting for the right of African Americans to vote, which was secured in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and, even then, in the South and other parts of the USA, African Americans were prevented from voting by various tactics used by powerful people to stay in power. Eighteen-year-old Americans did not get the right to vote until the Twenty-sixth Amendment, which was ratified in 1971. Even after that, they did not prove themselves a political force until 2008.

After all that effort over many years and generations we finally have what amounts to universal suffrage – almost every citizen can register to vote in America. It baffles me that tens of millions did not vote in the last presidential election.

We can conduct all the voter registration drives we want. We can identify voters and survey them for national polls, we can crow about the large numbers of people registered to vote, but if those registered don’t show up at the polling place or cast their vote by mail, then all the polls are wrong and we get a minority government like we have had twice this century.

More than eight in ten Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. Just because Illinois is not a battleground stated does not mean your vote doesn’t count. The people who write the laws are all on the ballot this November including members of Congress and some local candidates and referenda.

Now is the time to make your voice heard. I strongly urge you to consider all that has taken place up to this moment in time and make a decision right now that you are going to vote on or before Nov. 3, 2020. Mail-in ballots have been sent out and in person voting is taking place now. Don’t hesitate.

You don’t have to worry about being beaten or killed while casting your vote. Your biggest challenge may be finding a parking spot.


Jim Grandone is a long-time resident of Edwardsville, Ill. He was the architect of the 'East County...If You Only Knew' marketing campaign promoting the Metro East to businesses in St. Louis in the 1990s. Grandone holds a BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield and was a Coro Fellow and serves on a variety of boards. He lives in Leclaire with his wife, Mary.