Voting in the 21st century has become more relevant and significant than just a civic duty. It now literally determines the quality of life of each human being living in America and the quality of our Democracy.
Therefore, voter due diligence and voter risk management is at our doorstep on a daily basis.
The Constitution dictates that the members of the Senate and House of Representatives would be elected by popular vote. The president and vice president would be elected by the Electoral College.
The history of this process has been tumultuous since its inception. The process of voting was not always available and equal for all Americans. Therefore, awareness of this fact is a constant and necessary reality as to access versus disenfranchisement, increasing versus reducing polling locations and promoting engagement versus intimidation.
It’s important to keep in mind that it was not until the 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, that African American men were allowed to vote. But even then, hurdles were created to deny their vote, such as poll taxes, literacy tests and suppression by threats causing fear.
Women were denied the right to vote until 1920, when the women’s movement resulted in the 19th Amendment.
It was just 58 years ago that the 24th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 attempted to end voting discrimination.
But all of these formal Amendments and Rights did not deter political charlatans and fraudulent politicians from attempting to suppress access and the right to vote. The lingering reasons for the suppression are well known and documented. A civil war was fought over such rights.
The strategies to suppress representation, and I posit Democracy, have been exposed as “gerrymandering”, limiting polling locations, eliminating the number of days to vote, and restricting voting before and after business hours, making it harder for citizens who can’t take time off from their jobs.
Voter registration, voter ID requirements, voter certification, intimidation of poll workers and denial of certified results are strategies currently used to delay and obstruct the will of the people. In some cases, conceding to an opponent – validating the will of the people – is no longer a norm, tradition nor a political reality. This has occurred in local, state and national elections. The autocratic strategy is simple – deny results if the outcome does not favor your candidate or party.
What was always affirmed in our history books was that Americans had the right to vote. What was not said, was that some Americans would continuously have to fight to vote. This social-cultural-potitical conundrum is divulged in Michael Waldman’s treatise “The Fight to Vote.”
Voter suppression, intimidation and denialism of election results have become serious critical strategies since 2016, resulting in the insurrection at the US Capital on January 6, 2021.
We did not read about the insurrection in our history books – we witnessed it and we learned it was caused by politicians and their supporters who rejected legitimate results.
The orchestration of the insurrection has been judicially substantiated. Conspirators have been found guilty and incarcerated. Politicians are going through indictments and face consequences.
But, have citizens learned the lessons provided by such extremism? Will it translate into voter risk management?
We know the problems and complex issues. We have identified the charlatanism. We realize that “grievance – blame politics” and extremism are not the answers. But we are not as divided as those who promote fear mongering would have us believe.
We agree on many solutions as to ‘gun violence and reform, ‘climate control’, ‘pro-active universal health care‘, ‘environmental regulations and programs’, ‘women’s equity and choice’, ‘rule of law for all’, ‘maintaining and enhancing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid’, ‘improving our public school system’, ‘investing in the infrastructure of rural, urban and suburban communities’, and continuing to amplify and authenticate the vision, mission and guiding principles of our Democracy.
I believe that these are the tenets that protect our Democracy against an autocracy and confront social -cultural-political-isms and phobias. The following may provide Risk Management Lenses by which to determine who deserves and has earned our vote.
- Remain astutely informed on political issues that impact the quality of life.
- Focus on the decisions and choices that candidates have made in the past that will impact the future. What is their voting record?
- Determine whether candidates will compromise and collaborate in order to arrive at consensus for the greater good or will they obstruct legislation in order to maintain divisionism, power and control?
- Discuss with colleagues issues, policies, platforms, ideologies, attitudes and language used by politicians and their party.
- Rely on validated knowledge bases. Research more than one source for credible news. Avoid alt right and alt left extreme conspiracy theories that limit rights and freedoms.
- Become aware of any association by a candidate with White Supremacy, Domestic Terrorists and Hate Groups. Did candidates ever endorse, represent or support such groups or ideologies?
- Identify the history, motivation, authenticity and credibility of candidates. Are they public servants or self serving actors?
- Prioritize local and state elections such as school boards, mayors, legislators, police chiefs, judges, Secretary of State, Attorney General and Governor.
Prioritize voting for candidates that will collaborate, compromise and focus on the greater good, inclusivity, equity and a vision and mission that focuses on the future rather than the past.
Millennials and Gen Zers consider diversity and inclusion key components of American culture and of a successful institution / workplace. Early benchmarks show that “post Millennials are on track to be the most diverse, best-educated generation yet.” Pew Research Center
The US Census Bureau and the Pew Research Center report that America is demographically and exponentially becoming diverse. “A majority of Americans, 57%, say that the fact that the U.S. population is made up of people of many different races and ethnicities is a very good thing for the country and culture. Another 20% say this is somewhat good. These numbers include whites, blacks, Hispanics.” Also, “Companies, from Wall Street to Silicon Valley are building workforces that reflect the changing demographics.” Pew Center Research on Racial and Ethnic Diversity.
Millennials and Gen Zers turned out in historically high numbers for the midterm election of 2022. By 2024 their numbers will grow exponentially, as high schools across the country graduate a fresh contingency of voters, not to mention more college students getting involved in social-cultural-political issues.
What these groups have in common is that more of them are not voting red or blue but rather doing the homework on environmental regulations, climate control, abortion rights, voter suppression, gun control, immigration reform, tuition debt, health care, censorship and revisionism of historical facts and suppression of materials on social justice.
They also seek more critical and reliable knowledge bases in order to understand candidates and issues. What is being accented in the 21st century is credibility, authenticity, counter voices, backstories, historical context and affirmation of basic human values.
Values such as conservation, self empowerment, benevolence, respect, justice, acceptance, appreciation, gratitude, empathy, compassion, recognition and validation of other human beings are not new, but need to be revitalized, updated and focused upon.
These values are always on the ballot, as well as the names of candidates. The hope lies with all generations addressing risk management as voters, with a conscious conscientiousness that enhances our Democracy and the quality of each life.