“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal …” The Declaration of Independence has become the standard to which our country strives hold itself. It has become the lens through which we believe the Constitution should be interpreted, but since the birth of our nation, we have struggled to make this the moral compass it should be when it comes to voting rights.
In 1789 when our Constitution was adopted, most states limited voting to property-owning white men.
In 1868 and 1870 the 14th and 15th Amendments forbade denying voting rights based on race.
Quickly thereafter Jim Crow laws including poll taxes and literacy tests took the right to vote away from most black and many poor white citizens in the South.
In 1920, the 19th Amendment guaranteed the right to vote for women, although Jim Crow laws remained in place.
From 1962-64 the Supreme Court made a series to landmark decisions that finally codified the principle of “one person, one vote”. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 struck down Jim Crow laws.
In recent years Republicans have attacked voting rights with strategies aimed at limiting the numbers of minorities, poor and young people who vote. In Wisconsin, these laws include voter ID laws and purging voting rolls.
In addition, gerrymandering in Wisconsin following the 2010 census used sophisticated statistical programs for redistricting that favored their party. Since then Republicans have controlled the state legislature and congressional representatives far beyond the percentage of Republican popular vote.
In the Assembly District 38 race, Republican Barbara Dittrich of has defended gerrymandering, stating that “My first concern is the creation of another ‘non-partisan’ or ‘bipartisan’ board of unelected officials who are unaccountable to the taxpayers and voters.”
However, in Iowa nonpartisan redistricting has worked well for years. Melissa Winker supports nonpartisan redistricting.
On the national level, President Trump has attacked the election process on multiple fronts. He falsely states that mail-in voting will be rigged, he has hampered the census bureau from getting a complete count of minorities and he has refused to say he will respect the results of the election if he loses.
We must remember the Declaration of Independence and the principle of one person, one vote. Vote for Biden/Harris, Melissa Winker and Democratic candidates who pledge to represent us all.