I voted in my first Presidential election in 1992. In 1996 I was freshly back from working on a cruise ship, mostly around Europe, when I voted in my second Presidential election. In 2000, I was teaching fourth graders and we dug deep into the candidates and issues in that election. (Those kiddos came in every day wanting to know who won. It was rough on us all.)
Then, in my late teens and 20s, I thought candidates won by convincing folks to vote for them. I thought they had to sway the most voters to their side. Maybe that was true then, but, looking back now, I don’t think it mattered that much. I don’t think that was the biggest factor.
By my 30s and 40s, I thought turning out voters was what had to be done. I believed most folks weren’t undecided, they just had to be convinced to make the effort to get out and vote. As I am currently in my 40s, this is where I’ve been most recently and is something I still think is a factor. Voter turnout can make a difference for candidates.
Now, however, as I read more history, follow more super smart IBPOC online, and pay attention to what is happening across the country, I’m convinced that swaying voters and turning out voters isn’t enough. At least not for Democrats. The voter suppression that has been a norm in the US since it’s very beginning can’t be ignored.
At the start, only a handful of folks could vote. White men who owned property. That left out a lot of people. Legally. Slowly the legal definitions for who could vote expanded. At this point, if you’re a citizen and 18 or older, you should be legally able to vote.
There are legal reasons why people can’t vote. people who don’t have IDs that are considered valid. People who are incarcerated or formally incarcerated.
Then there are all the other ways people are kept from voting. Not enough voting locations in certain areas making it super hard for people who work on Election Day to also vote. Mail in ballots being questioned or thrown out. People showing up at voting locations and intimidating people.
I am certain there are far more voter suppression tactics I have missed. I recognize that my knowledge of various forms of oppression is more limited than it should be.
I have hit the point at which I believe that anyone who pays taxes should be able to vote. Are you 16 but paying taxes? Are you undocumented but paying taxes? I don’t care. Lower the voting age to 16 and allow anyone and everyone from 16 on up to vote. It should be a universal right.