I’d like to think that everyone knows there’s an election coming up in the United States. And like all elections, the outcomes are important. Some might argue that this year is even more important. I’m not going to get into that today except to say that even if you vote regularly, I hope you will take the time to finish reading today’s post.
I was a political science major in college, so I like reading and staying up on politics and the news. Which I will admit can be a bit challenging at times. A few months ago, Keith bought me a book titled “OMG WTF Does the Constitution Actually Say?” by Ben Sheehan. Whether or not you’ve read the Constitution, this is an educational and fun read. It contains both the actual text as well as a casual interpretation. I hadn’t read the Constitution in a long time and it was a good refresher.
Shortly after finishing Sheehan’s book, I heard about another book…this one about voting. Kim Wehle is a professor of law and legal expert. She wrote the book “What You Need to Know About Voting and Why”. Needless to say, I had to get a copy.
While I’ve been voting for a long time, I really enjoyed this book for a few reasons. It’s a book that talks about both the mechanics and complexities of voting. The book delves into whether or not we have a “right” to vote, how to qualify to vote, and how voting impacts government. I’ve never questioned my ability to vote ever nor have I ever had anyone question my ability to cast a vote. (Yes, my white privilege is showing.) That’s not the case for everyone and this book does a good job of explaining how voter suppression has happened over time and still exists today. It also talks about money in elections and if you ever wanted to know the difference between individual contributions, political action committees (aka PACs), and Super PACs…this book will clarify it for you.
The book was also helpful in sharing how older Americans who need assistance can have a caregiver help them vote and how individuals with disabilities can make sure they’re able to vote with accommodations. Finally, the book offers suggestions about what to do if for whatever reason you’re turned away from a voting precinct (and it could be because of what you’re wearing – and, yes, they can do so legally).
Voting is important. Our votes elect individuals who create laws that impact our personal and professional lives. I’m not just talking about major pieces of legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Right now, an elected school board official is deciding whether or not our kids or grandkids should go back to school in person or online. That’s pretty darn important.
I’m not trying to give you the hard sell on buying this book. I did think it’s really good and it will have a permanent spot on my bookshelf (next to Sheehan’s book about the Constitution). That being said, there is one quote from the book that I want to share.
“As far back as 1886, the Supreme Court has repeatedly declared that the right to vote is ‘fundamental’ because it is ‘preservative of all rights.’ Without the right to vote, individuals can’t hold government officials accountable for breaking other laws.”
Wehle suggests thinking about our ability to vote as an accountability tool. Without it, government officials could feel – and act – as if they’re above the law.
A recent AARP study showed that Americans 50 years of age and older would be the world’s third-largest economy if they were counted as their own country. You can imagine the economic impact of this demographic and the power they have in the voting booth. I’m not here to tell you how to vote. But I do hope you will take the time to learn the voting laws in your state, get educated on the issues, and make a plan to go vote. What happens on November 3, 2020 will have a long-term impact on us as individuals as well as our plans for retirement.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Gainesville, FL