To the Editor:
A new year holds the promise of a new beginning and positive change. If you make one resolution this year, resolve to vote.
Recently in Virginia elections, we have been reminded that every single vote counts. In one House of Delegates race the difference between the two major candidates was around 100 votes. In another it was a tie with over 11,000 votes on each side!
Our history of voting rights is fascinating. White males who own property have been able to vote since the early days of the United States. Different states have had changing laws. Some let women who owned property vote and then took that right away. Some let freed slaves vote and then took that right away.
In Virginia, changes in voting rights have come from amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The 15th amendment of 1870 said that voting rights could not be denied based on race, color or previous condition of servitude. Voting rights for women were included in the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. However, the conservative southern Virginia General Assembly did not ratify the 19th Amendment until 1952. In Virginia, a poll tax was put in place in 1902 and not banned until 1964 by the 24th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Prior to that, if you were too poor to pay the tax, you were not allowed to vote.
To read the entire letter to the editor, see the Jan. 4 edition of The Central Virginian.