I hear lots about what it means to be an American. I hear Pledges of Allegiance and see the waving of the Stars and Stripes everywhere. But there is nothing more fundamental to being an American than voting and exercising that right to vote. I have voted in every election, bar none, since I turned 18 and my husband who is an immigrant registered to vote as soon as he became a citizen.
If we affirm that our definition of American includes being able to vote, then we must provide every opportunity to make that expression of this basic democratic principle as accessible as possible. Yes, there are threats to this basic principle. Everywhere.
Witness the efforts to suppress the right to vote with attempts like rampant voter intimidation, limiting early voting and voting by mail, limiting access to polls by reducing the number of days or the hours for early voting and making it even more difficult to obtain a mail ballot.
We see our own Representative, Claudia Tenney, creating the so-called ‘election integrity’ caucus, the whole point of which is to oppose any possible reform which allows us to be fully American, that is to say, exercise our right to vote.
There is legislation which is being considered in the Senate, the For the People Act of 2021, which simply states as its purpose: “To expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and implement other anti-corruption measures for the purpose of fortifying our democracy.”
It’s really quite simple. To be American is to support this legislation.
Judith A. Jerome
Utica, NY 13501