October 20, 2014

EDITORIAL: Suffrage shouldn’t be taken for granted

It can’t be said often enough: Many people died for the right to vote – a right we now take for granted. In the last presidential election in 2008, approximately 60 percent of those eligible to cast a ballot did. And presidential elections boast larger turnout than other elections.

Sadly, Johnson County officials are only planning to see about 25 percent of the county’s registered voters during the 2010 primary election.

That’s somewhat shameful for the amount of blood spilled to take this country to near universal suffrage for almost everyone over the age of 18.

In America’s infancy, the franchise was restricted to white, male property owners. Political battles between the 1820s and 1840s eliminated the property ownership requirement. Decades later, following a bloody Civil War, former black slaves were enfranchised.

Later, women were granted the right to vote and the walls erected to keep blacks out of the voting booth fell. In the 1960s, the voting age was lowered to 18 due in part, to the number of 18 year-olds dying in Vietnam. The steps to full enfranchisement were steep and often riddled with civil upheaval and occasionally blood.

However, t-shirts and slogans telling the masses to “Rock the Vote” leave out an important part of the equation: Being informed on the issues and candidates.

On Aug. 3, Kansans will head to the polls to vote in primary elections.
Every registered voter should flock to the polls. When they arrive in polling booths, they should know the issues and the candidates on the ballot.

The election is still weeks away, although advance voting is happening even now. It’s too late to register to vote for the primary, but there’s still time to become informed, and there are plenty of ways to find information, and no excuse not to.

There are also plenty of ways in which to cast a ballot. Advance voting by mail started July 14, and July 20, voters started casting ballots at four different Johnson County locations — the Johnson County Election Office in Olathe; the northeast Johnson County Offices in Mission; Metcalf Shopping Center in Overland Park; and Ten Quivira Plaza in Shawnee. The offices will be open Monday through Saturdays from July 20 through July 31.

The election office will continue to take voters on Aug. 2, and then all polling stations will open on Aug. 3 for the primary election.

The right to vote and the responsibility to be informed go hand-in-hand. Those who exercise the first right should follow through with their duty to be informed on the issue and the candidates.

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