Every election is important, and every vote counts.
Even if you fear your vote for president will be nullified by the Electoral College system, there are many other races that will pick officials who directly affect our community and state in many ways. Those elected to the Douglas County Commission, the Kansas Legislature and the Kansas State Board of Education will have a huge impact on those who live in Lawrence and across the state.
Most of us take the right to vote too much for granted. A story in Sunday’s Journal-World served as a reminder that it was only 100 years ago that roughly half the population of Kansas had to fight for the right to vote. That changed on Nov. 5, 1912, when the male voters of Kansas approved a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.
Kansas was ahead of many states. Only six other states, all to the west, had approved full suffrage for women before Kansas. The vote wasn’t a slam dunk. The amendment passed by only a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent, so it was clear many Kansas men still had their doubts. The opinions of Lawrence businessmen, as reported in the May 26, 1912, Journal-World, ranged from A.D. Weaver, who said, “Give them all the suffrage they want” to J. Gordon Gibb, who said, “I believe that woman’s place is in the home” and presumably not at the polls, although Kansas women had had the right to vote in municipal elections since 1887.
In the last 100 years, women have adequately confirmed their ability to cast votes as well as hold public office. From today’s perspective, it seems incredible that anyone in the United States was denied the right to vote because of gender or race. Yet, around the world, many people still are fighting for the right to have a meaningful voice in the government that controls so many facets of their lives.
The Kansas secretary of state has predicted there will be a 68 percent turnout in today’s election, several percentage points below the turnout for the last two presidential elections. We hope he is proven wrong. There is no more important right for American citizens than the right to vote and no greater responsibility than to take advantage of that right.
One local resident suggested in Sunday’s story that women go to the polls today in honor of their sisters who fought to obtain the franchise 100 years ago. That’s a fitting tribute, but all Americans should vote every opportunity they get in honor of the founders of this country and as a beacon to all of those around the world who do not yet have the important right to vote.