Our nation is over 240 years old and many citizens take our democracy for granted. Adult men and women of all races and creed have the legal right to safely vote for the leaders of their choice. The United States provides the right to vote in local, state, and federal elections.
Forms of Government
Voting is a privilege not allowed all over the world. The United States was founded as a democracy, allowing individuals (citizens) to participate in the legal process. Remember the Boston Tea Party? No taxation without representation. Our country was founded on the basis that citizens would have a voice. Voting is that voice.
Common Government Political and Power Systems
- Democracy: The United States is a representative democracy. We vote for representatives, senators, and local officials that actually make the laws.
- In addition to operating under the “rule of the people”, the United States also functions as a federation. Federations are groups of self-governing states or regions under a central federal government. Canada, Mexico, and Australia also operate as federations.
- Unitary State: Unitary states function with a single government power over the entire county. China and France, along with the majority of members of the United Nations, operate in this manner.
- Autocracy: Absolute monarchies (Saudi Arabia and Oman) and dictatorships (North Korea) are examples of autocratic governments in which supreme and total power are limited to a single person.
After watching Hamilton on Disney+, you may think that England was an autocratic absolute monarchy at the time of the American Revolution. At the time, England was actually a constitutional monarchy. King George III held significant power, but his power was limited by Parliament.
Voting Amendments to the Constitution
Our forefathers crafted a lovely Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Nevertheless, the documents were incomplete and limited who was able to vote.
Under the 13th Amendment in 1865, slavery was abolished. However, it took another 5 years for the 15th Amendment to legally prohibit voting rights based on race. This amendment applied to federal and state elections.
In 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified allowing citizens to vote regardless of sex. This was a result of a decades-long battle of the women’s suffragette movement. Susan B. Anthony, depicted on the dollar coin, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton activly began campaigning for a women’s right to vote following the Civil War.
As a result of the Vietnam War, a push was made to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. Supporters of the 26th Amendment, implemented in 1971, often stated “old enough to fight, old enough to vote.” Unlike the 13th and 19th amendments, the minimum voting age was only applicable to federal elections.
Some states, although not Georgia, allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they will be 18 at the time of the general election.
Georgia Voter Registration
Given the blood, sweat, and tears to grant us the right to vote, we should consider it our duty to do so. The first step in voting in federal, state, or local elections is to register.
In order to register to vote in Georgia, you must meet all of the following:
- Be a citizen of the United States
- Be a legal resident of the county
- Be at least 17 1/2 years of age to register and 18 years of age to vote
- Not be serving a sentence for conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude*
- Have not been found mentally incompetent by a judge
Register to vote in Georgia HERE. Registration must be completed 29 days prior to an election.
*Convicted felons currently serving a sentence, on parole, or still paying fees are unable to vote in Georgia. Over 266,000 Georgians were unable to vote in 2018 due to felony conviction status. For this reason, if you are facing felony charges it is paramount that you contact the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines for a free consultation.
7.2 million Georgians are registered to vote. Let’s increase that number. Make your voice heard. #youareimportant