The 1965 Voting Rights Act helped dismantle generations of rules and regulations that disenfranchised minority voters, specifically African Americans. According to C.K., a writer for the Economist, “In 1965, when the act was passed, the black-white enrollment gap in Mississippi, for example, was 7% to 70%.”
Then, in 2013, the Supreme Court deleted a section of the act that required states to obtain federal preclearance in order to change voting practices. This has had adverse effects on the number of available precincts in African-American communities.
But beyond modern-day voter disenfranchisement, some individuals are making the personal choice not to vote.
So many historic civil leaders fought for the right for African-Americans to vote, including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Harry Belafonte, Thurgood Marshall, Jesse Jackson, Muhammad Ali, Aretha Franklin, Malcolm X and Coretta Scott King. So why aren’t people as enthusiastic to vote now as they were then?
Russell Williams, a student at Tallahassee Community College, explained how his confusion on the voting process and the lack of visible change from government caused him to give up on the system. “I have things such as rent, the cost of education and day-to-day living to worry about,” he said. “No one has time for political games, this is real life.”
Fellow TCC student Shanice Edwards said, “The majority of young voters don’t know… and some don’t care to know. To a young voter like myself, it’s heartbreaking to see other young people not connect the dots to policies implemented and their current life situation.”
Florida A&M University’s Student Government Association, under the leadership of David Jackson and Robyn Seniors, has made gains to encourage students to get out and go vote with the strike to the polls campaign.
Taylar Hall, SGA Organization and Finance committee chairwoman, said, “The time is now. Now more than ever it’s crucial that we as HBCU students show up and show out at the polls. If there was ever any question, always remember it’s in our DNA.”
This voting cycle there will be 13 constitutional amendments on Florida’s 2018 ballot. This is the most since 1998, when Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission put 9 of the 13 proposed amendments on the ballot.
Amendment 1, Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption
Amendment 2, Limitation on Property Tax Assessments
Amendment 3, Voter Control of Gambling in Florida
Amendment 4, Voting Restoration Amendment
Amendment 5, Super-majority Vote Required to Impose, Authorize, or Raise State Taxes or Fees
Amendment 6, Rights of Crime Victims; Judges
Amendment 7, First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges and Universities
Amendment 8, School Board Term Limits and Duties; Public Schools
Amendment 9, Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces
Amendment 10, State and Local Government Structure and Operation
Amendment 11, Property Right; Removal of Obsolete Provision; Criminal Statutes
Amendment 12, Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers
Amendment 13, Ends Dog Racing