The Right To Vote Is A Beautiful Thing!

November 3, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
All over America and here in the valley, election offices are expecting a record voter turnout driven primarily by the Presidential race. And two groups of Americans who were once excluded from voting are being courted by the Presidential campaigns. Both can be found in our neighborhoods, places of work and on college campuses like Fresno State. On the day before the election Umberto Avila, a candidate for the 29th State Assembly District was whipping up a noon time rally for Barack Obama: "36 hours to make sure the Barack Obama gets elected as president."

There were two competing political views co-mingling at this rally. John McCain supporters were there as well. Clarke Plunkett made it clear who he believed would win the election, "You know I think we're going to have an historic turnout, I think it really could go for Senator McCain."

Other students like James Barnes headed to class knowing he will be voting for Obama, "I look past the color or the race; I look at it as him being for the people." Before 1965 Barnes - an African American might not have been welcome in a voting booth. The arduous civil rights movement opened that door to Americans of African descent. But in fact, before 1920 women in this country could not vote.

The Women's Suffrage campaign in the 19-hundreds brought them change. FSU history professor Dr. Deanna Reese told us, "The process to make Americans involved in the political process has been a long and ongoing one and shouldn't be taken for granted. And shouldn't be taken for granted." She teaches American history and African studies and she challenges her students to face their future with an eye on the past.

African Americans and before them American women fought hard to get the right to cast a ballot she explained, "It gives, at least its hoped, inspiration to a new generation of voters."

This year the two groups once left out of the voting process altogether were courted by the candidates. As FSU student put it, "Either way the Democratic Party was going to have an African American or a woman. They're more important than ever this year."

So are their votes and those of all Americans over the age of 18 says James Barnes, "The thing is to get out there and vote and make your vote count, because every vote matters."



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