American Democracy and the Rule of the Law: Why Every Vote Matters

Winning Law Day essay from Elizabeth Matulis: This country, the United States of America, was founded on the idea that people should be represented. The Patriots rallied against the British and later other colonists backed the idea that there should be no taxation without representation.

As the Constitution was created, it was stated that “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.”

The Constitution emphasized the importance of freedom as well as rights as seen in the preamble.

One of the important rights was voting, which was seen not only after the Constitution was put into effect, but was also seen in the creation of the Constitution. The states had to vote to decide on the wording and process of government. In fact, the majority of states did not vote for the Constitution until the Bill of Rights was added, which defined fundamental rights of an American citizen.

Many people were disappointed that suffrage only applied to white males. Both females and African-Americans were denied the right to vote into the late 1860s.

After the Civil War, African- Americans gained citizenship under the 13th Amendment, and then the 15th Amendment gave them one of their fundamental rights, suffrage. Women did not gain this right until 1920, under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Today many people take this right for granted. Some people are apathetic about voting, people say "my vote won't count, why waste the time"? This attitude goes against the ideals of democracy and against what the America we were founded on stands for- democracy, liberty, life, and the pursuit of happiness.

Voting has become an important issue in today's time, particularly in North Carolina. Many people are trying to pass restrictive voting laws and limiting the time for early voting as well as asking for government photo ID. It is important to stop voter fraud cases because voter fraud hurts the idea of democracy.

However, these cases amount to such small numbers that if photo ID is enacted to prevent some (if not all) cases of voter fraud, citizens who are honest and hardworking may be prevented or discouraged from fulfilling their civic responsibility to vote because they do not have the available time or resources to get the appropriate identification.

Voting is critical. Now that I am older, and more interested in local as well as national news, I have been reading The Charlotte Observer on a daily basis. The newspaper has taught me how important it is to be at least aware of the politics to make a knowledgeable choice at the poll, and it also inspired me to vote in this past election when I became eligible just a few days prior to election day.

It may appear to some people that local elections do not make a difference, and often the mayoral elections and education board elections have a small turnout. However, these mayors can have a profound impact on the city as well as the state, and later the nation.

For example, the Charlotte mayor only a couple of years ago is now the governor, and former Mayor Anthony Foxx is now the Secretary of Transportation in Washington, D.C.

The recent shocking news of the arrest of the former mayor of Charlotte, Patrick Cannon, prompted many people to question why he was elected. But did all these people who questioned this vote? The unfortunate truth is probably not.

Voting is not only a responsibility, it is a privilege that was fought for by our forefathers, and continues to be fought for by brave soldiers today.

The right to vote is not something that should be squandered. It should be cherished, protected and exercised.