The Voting Rights Act of 1965 ended racial discrimination in voting. At least that is what it was supposed to have done. Before this landmark law, some states used certain Jim Crow laws to suppress Black peoples’ votes. This included instituting a poll tax or having to take a literacy test.
One thing we know is that after the Voting Rights Act was passed, Black voter turnout increased. In 1964 in Mississippi, Black voter turnout was 6 percent. Five years later it jumped to 59 percent. Voting rights for Black voters have improved since the Voting Rights Act was passed, but even today some states make it harder than others to cast your ballot.
The history of voting rights has been an upward battle. At first, the only people who could vote were white men with property. Since then, we have passed significant voting rights amendments: The Fifteenth Amendment granted the right to vote to former slaves and people of color. The Nineteenth Amendment gave the vote to women, and the Twenty-sixth amendment lowered the voting age to 18.
KPV members believe that if all people knew the history of the struggles to make voting happen, more people would understand the significance of their vote. We also feel voting day should be a national holiday. In the meantime, it is up to each of us to talk to our friends, workmates and family about voting and the importance of this action.
You can vote today for the Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor. If you want to vote early in person absentee, go to the Borough Annex building. Polls open on Tuesday, Feb. 14 from 7-8 p.m. This is not a ranked choice election — RCV is only for the state and our Washington, D.C., legislators. If you need to find more information about this election, go to https://linktr.ee/kenaipeninsulavotes or contact us at email@example.com.
Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes, a local voting advocacy group.