Written by Perry Hazeltine, Lancaster City. This piece was first published on November 10, 2020 in LNP/Lancaster Online. Reprinted here with permission from the author.
It turns out that citizenship itself is the winner in this year’s election. We had record-breaking turn out despite a pandemic. At a rally in Lancaster this week, a woman from Puerto Rico told the crowd that this was the first time she voted in a U.S. election. The thing that struck me the most is when she said to us that casting her vote gave her a sense of dignity.
It wasn’t always this way. Indigenous and enslaved people, people without property, and women did not have what we now see as a right. Even with Emancipation, black people struggled for a century to get real access to the polls, and that didn’t happen in the South until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Women’s fight for suffrage arrived only with the 19th Amendment in 1920.
However, there is a disconnect between Americans’ view of voting as sacred and chronically low voter turnout. Moreover, we are deeply divided in how accessible voting should be. Many state legislatures have recently tried to restrict voting for partisan reasons. Despite voter suppression and intimidation, the American spirit leans into the headwinds to create a more perfect union where all adults can vote unencumbered.
The real story of this election isn’t about court fights to stop counting votes. It is about millions of everyday people—black, brown, and white—practicing citizenship. It’s about government workers and volunteers doing the mundane task of counting votes.
This is where democracy lives.
©️2020 Lancaster Speaks Up. All rights reserved.
This website is maintained by the founding members of Lancaster SPEAKS Up. All writing and art contained on this blog post represent the thoughts and opinions of its author only.