by Peggy Hahn, LEAD Executive Director, and Kristen Krueger, PhD, LEAD Consultant

I stood in line for two hours to vote today as early voting opened. The very act of voting is one way to advocate for your faith as we stand in solidarity with those who have fought for this right. The trajectory of democracy in our country is towards inclusivity.

From the founding to today, the United States has walked a steady, sometimes messy, path to include more and more voices in the decision-making systems of our nation.

When the country was founded, only wealthy white men could vote. In order to cast a ballot, you had to be white and be able to own land.

Soon, the right to vote was granted to all white men.

With the passage of the 15th Amendment, African American men won the right to vote after the Civil War ended slavery in America.

In 1920, the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.

Most recently, during the Vietnam War, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in response to criticism from young veterans.

Every step toward expanding the vote came out of hard-fought battles and was met with attempts to recreate restrictions. This included literacy tests, voter ID laws, and the “grandfather clause.” Even so, the arc of history in the United States has been one of expanding, not limiting, liberty.

By including more voices, the Unites States becomes a truer reflection of our population and steps closer to realizing the democracy of our founders. Voting gives faithful people an opportunity to advocate for the “least of these.”

Use this interactive tool by the League of Women Voters to prepare to vote: As a leader in this country, lift your voice and encourage the people in your life to join you in voting. I believe we have a responsibility to contribute and I urge you to do the same.

It took nearly 100 years for women to gain the right to vote in this country (the movement started in 1848 and continued until 1920).

This is our watch and it is our turn to show up.

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