Land of the Free…

by 

Marlene Smith

October, 2004

 

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I have always been a registered voter. As soon as I turned 18 I had my voter registration card and have rarely missed voting in an election since. One of the first things that I do when I move is to update my registration so I do not miss an upcoming election. That’s how strongly I believe in the power of a single vote.

Being at home these past few weeks, recovering from my surgery, has given me plenty of time to see what’s on daytime TV. I had an opportunity to catch a recent Oprah show and the theme was about encouraging people to get out and vote, especially women.

The show also opened my eyes, as I did not realize that not all families were political in nature, so to speak. I did not understand that perhaps my voting experience was vastly different than a majority of the women in our country. The way I was raised, both of my parents instilled the belief that EVERY vote counted, and it was not only a hard-earned right, but also my civic duty to vote. They also taught me that it would be unlikely I will find a candidate that agrees with all of my views and opinions. I must simply choose the candidate that most closely represents my beliefs.

Emancipated slave and civil rights activist Sojourner Truth, speaking at the Women's Rights Convention in Akron in 1851, said, "If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!"

I found the following item on the Oprah website. Now, I have shortened it a bit, but the core message is still intact. “There was a time not so long ago in this country when unmarried women held no status, other than as old maids. Our opinions and choices didn't matter because we needed a man to bring us value. Now we have the power and have chosen not to use it. In the 2000 presidential election, 22 million unmarried women who were eligible to vote stayed home from the polls. While 68 percent of married women voted, only 52 percent of unmarried women did so. If single women voted at the same rate as married women, millions more ballots would have been cast. Remember, 537 votes decided the last presidential election. We owe more, and we ought to do better and respect ourselves enough to be counted.”

She goes on to say that “…if you’re a woman in America, you're one of the luckiest women on the planet. There’s no other place on Earth where a woman has the freedom and the choices that we take for granted every single day…as women in America, we have richness of choice few other women can even dream of.”

For all the women around the world who don't have the choices we do, consider honoring yours. Vote on November 2nd. There’s still time to register. If you are a New Jersey resident, go to www.njelections.org to register. Remember, every vote counts!

"The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all."
John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963), speech at Vanderbilt University, May 18, 1963


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