Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

March 2016

Voting is the big March deal, right?

New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina are history and by the end of March, not only will all the results of town meetings be in, but nationally a ton of primary elections will also be in the books.

A couple of things to consider on the subject of voting.

The right to vote is not an obligation to vote, but the right does come with obligations. Jury duty for one: To serve on a jury one must be a registered voter. And, if called, one should not try to avoid serving, although, in truth, many do. Serving on a jury causes economic hardships for hourly workers and many employers, especially small-business owners.

Voting rights have evolved, of course. Originally, voters and, therefore, jurors were male landowners. Over the years, the right to vote (and sit on juries) was extended to male non-landowners including former slaves, although in some states only if your grandfather was a citizen. By the time many African American males cleared the grandfather hurdle, women had won the right to vote.

Poll taxes, rigorous testing, picture IDs, and other voting rights suppression tactics have been employed to keep “certain” people away from the voting booth and the jury box. (Certain people have been championed for years by organizations like NAACP.)

Voting age was lowered in 1971 from 21 to 18 on the theory that if you were expected to fight for your country, you should be allowed to vote. Even though women were not expected, or even allowed, to fight, they, too, were granted the right to vote (and sit on juries if registered).

In this election campaign to date, much has been said about religion and the importance of appealing to evangelicals. Now, I haven’t cracked a Baltimore Catechism in a few decades, but I distinctly remember learning that my church believed the age of reason was 7. That meant that by the time children were 7 years old they were capable of committing a mortal sin (a sin so bad you would go to hell).

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said there was a special place in hell reserved for young women who didn’t support other women. So, maybe girls, upon reaching the age of reason, should be allowed to vote (and sit on juries).