By James B. Ewers Jr. Ed.D.
We enjoy freedom each day of our lives as it is a fundamental tenet of our America.
Our Constitution was designed so that we could have choices.
The early founders understood that these choices and rights would define our way of life.
As we know, there are parts of the world where dictatorships rule the day, and their citizens have no choices or rights.
Sadly, they must contend with whatever their governments say because they have no say.
That is why countries who have no freedoms look at America as a land of opportunity.
Do we take these freedoms and privileges for granted?
The way of life we have is the only way of life that we know.
Unlike our brothers and sisters in foreign lands, we wake up every day free!
We don’t have to seek out hiding places because our views may be contrary to others
Our voices are not muted and muffled because we fear those in charge.
Let’s just say proudly and simply that freedom is a beautiful thing.
Yet we know that along with freedom comes responsibility.
Having choices and rights are inextricably tied to the responsibilities that we have as citizens of this nation.
Voting has been a long-standing staple of our democracy.
This right to vote is not to be taken lightly.
If you are Black like me, you know the history that we have had with voting.
From the poll tax to The Voting Rights Act of 1965, it has always been a struggle however we have persisted and prevailed.
Blood shed and lives lost have placed voting as a consistent priority for us. This is my opinion.
Our voting has resulted in significant improvements in our quality of life, yet we still have challenges ahead.
Living where we live and how we use our resources have come as a direct result of our voting at all levels.
The power of the vote in many respects has been our safety net.
The record will show that our right to vote has often been met with resistance.
We need to look no further than the state of Georgia.
Georgia State Bill 202 has created barriers for voters.
For example, there is a distance requirement for food and water to be given to voters in line. This in my opinion is ridiculous and disheartening.
Another new regulation is the time to request and return absentee ballots has dropped from 176 days to 59 days according to reports.
Liz Conrad, deputy director of Fair Fight, a voting rights organization in the state said, “For voters who wish to vote by mail, many are now overcoming these barriers while attempting to make their voices heard.”
Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples Agenda said, “What we have to do now is canvassing to really educate people about the process. We are trying to make sure that people are still able to exercise their right to vote.”
It is clear to many in the Peach state that State Bill 202 is problematic.
Shanice Amira Bennerson a former precinct manager decided not to continue as a poll worker.
She said,” Trying to help voters who were just so confused and dejected is heartbreaking. When you have limited precincts and voters who are confused by these changes, some just left.”
Despite these voting entanglements, I believe the people of Georgia will have the final say.
The detours will only make them stronger and more determined.
There will always be those who create non-sensical rules that inhibit forward progress.
We have overcome too much and come too far to turn back now.
Mid-term elections will be occurring in Georgia and across the country.
Don’t worry, we will be there in record numbers. Vote on Tuesday, November 8th.