Tomorrow, Virginians and indeed all Americans will go to the polls to exercise perhaps the most cherished privilege of a free society — the right to vote. Across the Commonwealth and the nation, millions will have their opportunity to go to the polls to elect everything from the next president to members of the next Congress to members of city and town councils.
As we have said previously on this page, this is an important election for the future of our country, and we believe that Mitt Romney is the best person to lead America back to the stature she deserves in the world and restore a failing economy that has placed so many burdens on our citizens.
So, in a scant 24 hours or less, the polls will open and the voters will have their say. And as too many take this
privilege for granted or simply fail to take advantage of it, we thought a brief look back at the history of voting in America might be instructive.
According to a detailed story in a 2007 edition of the CW (Colonial Williamsburg) Journal written by Ed Crews, the broad right of voting that exists today was neither the practice, nor in many cases, the intent of our founding fathers.
Mr. Crews tells of the first election on American soil, when in 1607 “the commanders of the 105 colonists unsealed a box containing a secret list of seven men picked in England to be the colony’s council and from among whom the councilors were to pick a president.” In fact, because John Smith, perhaps the most famous of the early settlers, “was at first denied his seat on suspicion of concealing a mutiny, six men — less than 6 percent of the population — participated in the choice” of the new president.
And so began a journey that more than 400 years later can and will stir controversy among the masses. Requirements for proving your identity today in order to cast a vote bring a hue and cry from the left, but compare this simple verification to the writings of our second president, John Adams.
As Crews reports, the future president wrote this in 1776 about expanding the right to vote: “[i]t is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters; there will be no end to it. New claims will arise; women will demand the vote; lads from 12 to 21 will think their rights not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state.”
Needless to say, much has changed and evolved since the days of Revolutionary War. And as we near the end of the most expensive campaign in American history with a non-stop barrage of political ads that at best push the envelope and at worst feature more lies and distortions per minute than most can count, we note this from Mr. Crews writings about nascent American politicians: “Campaigning by candidates was different from today’s. There were no mass media or advertising. Candidates talked with voters in person, walking a line between undue familiarity and aloofness.”
And now, with the sunset of a much different type of campaign upon us, there is only one thing left to do: Vote. So get out tomorrow and exercise the right that so many have sacrificed so much for us to have.