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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

History of the Right to Vote and why November 2 is an important date for the unemployed

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To vote or not to vote! Americans will have that choice in the upcoming November 2 elections. Anyone that is over the age of 18 and is a U.S. or Nationalized citizen can take part in the process to elect the local, county, parish, and State or Federal representatives.

Voting, in general, is a very personal event. All voters go into the election booth, alone, to make the decisions of who deserves their conference, to make sound verdicts on important issues. The judgments made to vote Democratic, Republican, Green, Libertarian, Independent or write-in, are frequency decide upon, after an in-depth study of the candidate's political, social or ethical views.

As history reminds us, the opportunity to vote, has experienced many upheavals of the Constitutional right, throughout American history. To be specific, the 15th amendment to the Constitution was the last of the “Reconstruction Amendments” to be adopted. The amendment was designed to prohibit discrimination against voters on the basis on race or previous condition of servitude. Previously, the states had had full responsibility for determining voter qualifications.

Still the 15th Amendment did not address the exclusions of the 14th Amendment; which in Section 2 stated  "....[W]hen the right to vote... is denied... or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens... in such State.

Women in general, regardless of race, lost the right to vote for over 50 years, until the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. African-Americans, both male and female, experience decades of voter intimation, including such things as an illegal "Poll Tax", "Literary Requirements" and "Unreasonable Qualification Requirements" to exclude the population from voting, especially in the South. 

It took two additional Constitutional Acts, the 24th and 26th Amendments in the 1960's, to fully allow African-Americans and minorities as a whole, to participate in the voting process.

Reviewing voting history for American society as a whole, one should be very suspect when any group suggests that citizens of this country should not take part in the right to vote. 

For unemployed job seekers, voting in the upcoming November 2, elections are critical for any future Congressional actions on any jobless benefit extensions.

The National Unemployment Rate, is 9.6 percent. Many states have either double-digit unemployment or near double digits jobless figures. The last general unemployment extension act H.R. 4213, was finally passed by the Congress and signed by President Obama on July 22, after three successful filibuster Senate based attempts from the minority Republican party. Only two Republicans Senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, crossed party lines, allowing the measure to reach the President desk for his signature.

Another important group, the 99ers (unemployed job seekers who exhausted between 73-99 weeks of supplemental income payments) have been without any benefits, since March of 2010. Growing frustration among these jobless Americans on Congress providing any additional payments over the last 8 month; has led to a No Vote or "NOVO" grassroots movement, among a smaller subset of this group.

On August 4, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced S. 3706 "The Americans Want To Work Act" bill, which would allow up to 20 additional weeks of unemployment compensation and a $2000 tax credit for businesses that hire the long-term unemployed. Currently, the bill sits within the Senate Finance Committee. 

The "NOVO" movement has threaten to vote against all Democrats, unless the bill makes its' way on the Senate floor, for an up or down vote, by the week of October 1. The date is of importance because Congress is scheduled to take a recess, until after the November 2, elections.

With an estimated 5 million 99ers, it would be difficult to believe that the stated actions of a few, would decide the final decisions of many jobless Americans. Yet, their voices are being heard among some media personalities, like Ed Schultz.

Rhonda Taylor, a 99er in Rhode Island, who has been active in fighting for additional supplemental payments for this group, does not believe unemployed Americans should not excise the right to vote on November 2.

"Ethnically, I want to uphold my values and that is by voting", Ms. Taylor told the "Reach Out Job Search" blog writer. "I waited eight months for this and I am still voting for the Democrats." Additionally, Ms. Taylor cited that, "I am just one story of a very big crowd."

Ms. Taylor, appeared on MSNBC "The Ed Show" on September 23, to talk about why she believes that unemployed job seekers should take part in the voting process on November 2.

"I think it would be very hypocritical to ask our Government to work on our behalf and not vote, " Taylor stated on the show. She does believe that unemployed voters need to be educated on where the candidates stand on the issues affecting the 99ers, "But I will be a very educated voter and I will pay attention to who is doing right by us."

The key for unemployed job seekers, whether they are 99ers or currently receiving the supplemental payments from H.R. 4213, until November 30th, is to take part in the process. Become educated where any candidate they might vote for; stand on the issues of job creation and unemployment benefits in America. To sit out in the upcoming election, would be a grave error. 

Unemployment job seekers would give the power to others, to decide which actions and/or candidates are appropriate for their individual needs. History proves, Americans have fought and died to give you the right to vote. Take part and do not be denied.
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