Voting determines election outcomes, deciding which elected officials will be making the important decisions and establishing the policies that directly and indirectly affect many areas of our lives such as taxes, health care, military operations, legal codes, education and food standards. Voting gives each person the opportunity to express an opinion on a matter and directly impact who is elected. Not voting, allows the choices and opinions of others to hold sway over our lives.
The right to have a say in the processes of government is a fundamental aspect of democracy. People who are unable to vote do not have the ability to influence governmental policies that affect them. The colonialists' main complaint against Britain in the period leading up to the Revolutionary War was that the British parliament did not properly represent their interests when passing certain laws. Without a say in election processes, citizens are at the mercy of the ruling parties.
The right to vote, also known as suffrage, has been considered a key milestone in rights movements throughout history. The women's rights movement pushed for suffrage for decades before finally receiving it in 1920. While the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1870 granted freed slaves the right to vote, full suffrage for African-Americans was not achieved until the 1960s as a result of the Civil Rights Movement. The 23rd and 24th Amendments along with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 removed discriminatory barriers that had previously kept African-Americans from exercising their right to vote.