Get out and vote

Published 10:38 pm Friday, November 2, 2018

By Chris Quilpa

Get out and vote on Tuesday! It’s an opportunity to let your voices be heard by exercising your constitutional right to elect the most qualified candidates who, in your belief and to your knowledge, are going to be effective public servants.

To vote is your fundamental right and a civic duty as responsible citizens of this great republic.

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Active participation in a democratic process, by voting in local, state and national elections, is a must for all American citizens, like you and me. This basic human right to vote is both a duty and an obligation as Americans. Your vote is your voice, politically speaking. You and I have a very important role to play in the decision-making of the government. Don’t waste it.

Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, ratified on July 9, 1868, explicitly mentioned the right to vote. At that time, only 21-year-old male persons born or naturalized in the United States and the State wherein they reside, with the exception of those who participate in rebellion or other crime, could participate in any election for the choice of electors for president and vice president of the United States, representatives in Congress, and the executive and judicial officers of a state.

With the birth of the women’s suffrage movement started by Lydia Taft of Massachusetts in 1756, and subsequently by other well-known female suffrage advocates and activists like Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone and Susan B. Anthony, the right to vote for women gained momentum. Gov. John Allen Campbell of the Wyoming territory was the first governor to approve the first U.S. law granting women the right to vote on Dec. 10, 1869. Other states, like Idaho, Utah and Colorado, followed suit. Eventually, on June 4, 1920, Congress approved the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited state or federal sex-based restrictions on voting.

The Fifteenth Amendment, ratified on Feb. 3, 1870 by the U.S. Congress, states that the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

The Twenty-Fourth Amendment, ratified Jan. 23, 1964, states that the right of the citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for president or vice president, for electors for president or vice president, or for senator or representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

Furthermore, the Twenty-Sixth Amendment, ratified July 1, 1971, states that the right of citizens of the United States who are 18 years of age or older to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of age.

Don’t take your right to vote for granted. You have the power to effect change and reforms in your government. Exercise your right to elect who will serve, lead and represent you.

With your vote, you can make a difference not only for yourself but also for others — your family and friends and future generations. With your vote, you are empowered to make your city, community and country better.

Your vote matters because it’s your voice, a powerful voice that can make or unmake a candidate or politician a public servant. Your vote can unseat an incumbent who does not meet your expectations; it can install into public office a newcomer or challenger who is ready to work for the common good, with his or her zeal and passion to serve the public. Your vote determines what your future city, community and country will be, with the best possible candidate you have chosen.

Go to the polls and vote. Don’t forget to bring your photo ID with you when you go vote. The following are acceptable photo identifications:

  • A valid Virginia driver’s license or DMV identification card
  • Government-issued photo identification
  • Valid U.S. passport
  • Valid employee photo identification
  • Valid college or university student photo identification card (issuer must be an institution of higher education located in Virginia)
  • Voter photo ID card issued by the Department of Elections

Don’t let this once-in-a-while civic and patriotic duty and opportunity pass you by. Your vote counts! It matters for your future and future generation of America. Give the election registrar and her team the opportunity to count and tabulate your votes.

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at