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Why voting is important

National Voter Registration Day is held annually on the fourth Tuesday of September, with this year’s being held on Sept. 25.

National Voter Registration Day is held annually on the fourth Tuesday of September, with this year’s being held on Sept. 25. This day is meant to ensure every American citizen receives the opportunity to register to vote, so they are able to vote once the presidential candidates are selected. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Voting is a right many Americans take for granted.

It has only been 57 years that every American citizen, no matter their gender, race, color or whether or not they read or speak English, has had the right to vote. The only requirement is one has to be 18 years of age or older.

Since the inception of the Electoral College in 1788, voting for the President has been of utmost importance to many American citizens.

It was 1920 when American men and women of all race and color, aged 21 and over, were finally granted the right to vote. However, there were still stipulations on what qualified a person to vote, such as literacy.

President Lyndon Johnson initiated the Voting Rights Act in 1965, enforcing the 15th Amendment of the Constitution by explicitly stating that obstacles, such as literacy tests or complicated ballot instructions, are against federal law.

On July 1, 1971, Congress passed the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. The law is meant to resolve the inconsistency that 18-year-olds were old enough to be drafted into the military, yet did not have the right to vote.

National Voter Registration Day is a national holiday intended to celebrate democracy in the U.S. First observed in 2012, it is held annually on the fourth Tuesday of September, with this year’s being held on Sept. 25.

Every year, millions of Americans miss their chance to vote because they miss a registration deadline, don’t update their registration, or aren’t sure how to register, according to the National Voter Registration Day website.

“On Tuesday September 25, 2018 volunteers and organizations from all over the country will ‘hit the streets’ in a single day of coordinated field, technology and media efforts,” according to the National Voter Registration Day website. “National Voter Registration Day seeks to create broad awareness of voter registration opportunities to reach tens of thousands of voters who may not register otherwise.”

This day is meant to ensure every American citizen, including Team Shaw members, receives the opportunity to register to vote, so they are able to vote once the presidential candidates are selected.

Registering to vote is important because if you want to continue to receive all the current information about voting, you need to register each year and update your current mailing address, said Ara Thomas, 20th Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Readiness Center alternate voting assistance officer.

Thomas continued to say voting is important because military members fight to preserve all of our rights, including the right to vote, to speak up and have their voices count. They are able to stand up and vote for what they believe in. People want their vote to be heard.

For more information on voting, contact Shaw's Voter's Assistance Office at (803) 895-4127.