Votes hold candidates accountable

Published 9:40 pm Thursday, November 3, 2016

To the editor:

The time has come for us to go to the polls to cast ballots for the candidates of our choice. But I am concerned that many people feel they should not vote.

As president of the local branch of the NAACP, I feel a need to let people know it is very important for them to vote.

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It is especially important for African-Americans and other minorities to vote. Many individuals fought for our right to vote, much blood was shed, and lives were lost.

Some also forget that the president is not the only office on the ballot. The next president will very much need to have his party in the House of Representatives and the Senate. There are also other important state and local offices on the ballot. As you may know, we have a cadre of candidates for City Council, mayor and School Board.

Local and state elections are also the ones in which citizens make decisions on issues that most directly affect us, including public school control, reproductive rights, legalized recreational marijuana, discrimination laws and police sensitivity.

Have you ever wondered why Congress has not increased the minimum wage to $10.10? Maybe it’s because big business has poured major resources into lobbying against it, causing some voters who support the increase to choose not to cast ballots.

This is especially true during the midterm elections. During the midterm election in 2010, when there was not a presidential candidate on the ballot, there were 25 million eligible voters who did not vote. Because of this, the Republicans took over the House of Representatives, crippling President Obama’s programs.

A higher voter turnout makes our democracy more representative.

Americans have the right to vote, whereas people in other countries are struggling and fighting for that right. Sometimes we take that right for granted. Let us not forget that not that long ago women and others were denied the right to vote.

Women did not gain suffrage until 1920, which means that the grandmothers of many non-voting millennials were alive during a time when they were prohibited from voting.

Voting is our voice, and it is important and meaningful in that it is a way to back the issues we care about. Voting is our civic duty, and it can provide our wants, desires and needs.

We can also think of voting as a license to complain about our elected officials. Our grievances speak louder for voters, and our votes give us power to hold candidates accountable for the promises they make.

Happy Voting Day!

Costellar Ledbetter


NAACP, Suffolk Branch