CAPE ELIZABETH – Voting isn’t something that should be taken for granted, but many people seem to.

When I was growing up, my dad was involved in both local and state politics. He served on the school board before I was born and then was elected to the Maine Legislature, where he became speaker of the House in his sixth term.

After that he ran for the state Senate, and the race resulted in a tie vote — an equal number of votes for his opponent and for himself — and a special election followed. Dad won the Senate seat in the special election, but the tie election that brought on the rematch emphasized the value of just one vote.

Less than 100 years ago, women were not allowed to vote in this country. Many women, suffragettes, campaigned for women to have the right to vote. They organized demonstrations and endured public ridicule, and sometimes violence ensued.

The suffragettes pushed on tirelessly, until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, which guaranteed women the right to vote. Back then my grandfather was a judge in York County, and he proudly witnessed his wife and his sister enroll as the very first and second female registered voters in the district.

My husband was born in Canada and moved to the U.S. in the ’70s, when he obtained his green card (before green cards had expiration dates). Two years ago he applied for U.S. citizenship and was naturalized along with several others from more than a dozen countries who were also granted citizenship that day. This November will mark their first national general election.

Our daughter turned 18 only days after Election Day four years ago, but this year will also be her first opportunity to vote in a presidential election. She seems as indifferent about voting as my husband did before he became an American citizen. Even if political personalities do not appeal to her, there will be issues to vote on, referenda about whether to invest specific amounts of money in areas that will concern her future, from transportation to water quality.

The political signs we see dotting lawns and peppering intersections this time of year convey a four-letter word with an important message to all eligible voters: VOTE! Each sign is significant, and at the very least, each sign should remind every voter to exercise his or her privilege.

Like the scenic beauty throughout our state and the fresh air we breathe, voting is something that should not be taken for granted.

 

Carolyn Smith is a resident of Cape Elizabeth.