Sunday’s Meditation: What is the Right to Vote?

Imagine you live in a World with a law that you must stand if someone from a different self-described ‘master race’ demands your seat on a crowded bus.

Now imagine you have no power to change the laws that govern your life.

American democracy is a new idea based on hope.

The new idea is self-government; the hope is that we will govern wisely.

Portrait of a young African-American woman who was working as a voter registration volunteer on Church Street in San Francisco
“Do you vote?’ She asked

Everything about our government, good and bad, is a result of the express and covert will of those who vote or don’t vote; if you disagree with a law on your state’s ballot, a non-vote means you agree.

If Americans don’t like a law, we can petition the government to change it or we can challenge it in the courts. If that fails, we can vote to change the law, state by state, as we are doing now with marijuana.

infographic 2018 states where it's legal to smoke weed
States where it’s legal to smoke marijuana

That’s not how American Democracy began

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, by Howard Chandler Christy

On June 21, 1788, when the states ratified the Constitution of the United States, states limited the vote to property-owning or tax-paying white men, or roughly 6% of over three million people. (1790 census)

Single property-owning women “worth fifty pounds” could vote in New Jersey between 1776 and 1807 before the vote was restricted to white men. In 1838, Kentucky allowed widows with school-age children to vote in school elections, and Kansas followed in 1861. (History)

At the time of the American Civil War, most states adopted universal suffrage for white men, but states used literacy tests, poll taxes, and religious tests to limit the vote.

Most people of color, and Native Americans could not vote.

Jews, Quakers, and Catholics were excluded from voting and holding public office.

Maryland excluded candidates who failed to affirm faith in an afterlife from holding public office; this law was aimed at Jews.

In 1856, North Carolina was the last state to drop property ownership as a voting requirement.

In 1860 Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and North Carolina required voters to pay taxes before casting a vote.

American women won the right to vote in 1920.

Poster for a 1913 Women's March for the vote.
Poster for a 1913 Women’s March for the vote.

African-Americans in the South would face voter intimidation, Jim Crow laws, literacy tests and poll taxes until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by Democratic President, Lyndon B. Johnson.

The Supreme Court in Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections ruled in 1966 to prohibit tax payment and wealth requirements for voting in state elections.

Public domain photo of Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act
Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act

The fight to keep the right to vote continues…

As of 2018, the United States is among the most punitive nations in denying the vote to citizens convicted of a felony offense.

Alabama – A person convicted of a felony loses the ability to vote if the felony involves moral turpitude.

Arizona – Restores voting rights to first-time felony offenders. Others must petition.

Delaware Certain crimes require a pardon for the right to vote: murder or manslaughter, an offense against public administration involving bribery or improper influence or abuse of office anywhere in the USA, or a felony sexual offense (anywhere in the USA)

Mississippi – The crimes that disqualify a person from voting as stated in Section 241 of the state constitution are murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement or bigamy.

Nevada – First time and non-violent offenders may petition a court of competent jurisdiction for an order granting the restoration of his or her civil rights.

Tennessee – A person convicted of certain felonies may not regain voting rights except through pardon. These felonies include murder, rape, treason, and voting fraud.

Wyoming – As of July 1, 2003, first-time, non-violent offenders have to wait 5 years before applying to the state parole board for restoration of suffrage. The parole board has the discretion to decide whether to reinstate rights on an individual basis.

Florida –In cases of less serious crimes, disenfranchisement ends 5 years after completion of terms of incarceration, completion of parole and completion of probation.  In cases of serious crimes, the wait is 7 years and the Florida Executive Clemency Board decides after receiving an application from the ex-offender. The effect of Florida’s law is such that in 2014 more than one in ten Floridians – and nearly one in four African-American Floridians – are shut out of the polls because of felony convictions.

Iowa Voting rights can ONLY be restored through an individual petition or application to the government.

Kentucky – Only the governor can reinstate Civil Rights. The ex-offender must complete “Application for Restoration of Civil Rights”

Virginia – Only the governor can reinstate civil rights.

The United States doesn’t claim perfection: Americans are a flawed people and we make mistakes; but Americans have a history of coming together to try to govern wisely.

 

a rainbow graphic that reads Vote This November 6
Vote This November 6

Let’s come together and vote in droves this year.

 

 

 

 

Rob Goldstein 2018, I do not own the images in this post

Sources

Encyclopedia Britannica

Wikipedia

Nonprofit VOTE

The U.S. Census Bureau

 

 

 

Ghost

I pull the pigtails
of the pale
little girl

whose skirt
is a raggedy shroud.

She is skinny
innocence
and says
in a past life
she carried
a cross.

She says, “Every time I shoplift, an angel sheds a tear”


Rob Goldstein 2015-2018

Kavanaugh Confirmed

Avinu Malkeinu

Prayer of Repentance

Our father our king, hear our voice
Our father our king, we have sinned before you
Our father our king, Have compassion upon us
and upon our children

Our father our king
Bring an end to pestilence,
war, and famine around us
Our father our king, bring an end to all trouble
and oppression around us

Our father our king, Our father our king,
Inscribe us in the book of (good) life
Our father our king, renew upon us
Renew upon us a good year

Hear our voice
Hear our voice
Hear our voice

 

Rob Goldstein 2018
Distress Signal found on Twitter

October’s Featured Blogger: Mae Clair

Author Mae Clair is October’s Featured blogger in this, the second re-boot of my monthly featured blogger post.

In our interview, Mae shares some of her history and ideas about writing and success.



In your profile, you say you like to blend genres; does it happen as you write?

It developed as my writing progressed. I never liked being pigeon-holed to a certain genre, so my early books were a mash-up of mystery and romance. The romance eventually fell by the wayside and mystery took center stage. I do, however, blend that up with elements of the supernatural, paranormal, and psychological aspects. One book also included a bit of sci-fi with UFO sightings and Men in Black.

You wrote your first story at six; what was it about?

I don’t remember the content. What I do remember is being given the assignment and my classmates scrawled out a few lines while I produced a few pages. Everyone said “Have Mae read hers.” I think it had to do with the people who lived in a city. I do remember The Night Dog which I wrote when I was eight. It was about a girl who kept seeing a ghost dog out of her window each night when she went to bed.


What is cryptozoology and when did your interest in it begin?

Cryptozoology is a pseudo-science devoted to the study of things that may exist but have not been proven to exist. Think Bigfoot, Loch Ness, or—my personal favorite—the Mothman. I’ve always been attracted by creatures and monsters from the time I was a kid. As an adult, I became fascinated with myth, urban legends, and folklore. I love the “what if” possibilities. I’ve made two research trips to the area where the Mothman was spotted by approximately 100 people in 1967. Doing that helped me add an extra level of authenticity to my Point Pleasant series of novels which blend the legend of the Mothman with historical elements and my own fictional twist.

Robert Kennedy discusses school with young Ricky Taggart
Kennedy discusses school with young Ricky Taggart


In your profile, you mention that you enjoy reading almost anything
about Robert Kennedy. Why Robert Kennedy?

I never knew anything about him until I caught a movie that was done somewhere in the early 2000s. It intrigued me enough to seek out more information. I started watching documentaries and devouring books about his life. He wasn’t a saint, but he had noble ideas that crossed boundaries of race and class, reaching out the downtrodden and migrant farm workers.  When you read about his family dynamics—his relationship with his parents, brother John, his wife and kids—he was so much than a politician. He was also the same man who made Hoffa squirm and was ruthless in going after organized crime as Attorney General. When he was campaigning in 1968 he said “there are guns between me and the White House.” Sadly, he was correct. We’ll never know how the country might have been different had he made it to the presidency.

Who are your favorite mystery writers?

There are several big name authors who are auto-buys for me. The writing team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child top the list. I go fan-girl over their Aloyisus Pendergast novels. I’m also a big fan of Kevin O’Brien, Tana French, Jennifer McMahon, P. J. Parrish, and—most recently—Shari Lapena.

How do you stay disciplined and organized?

I don’t know that I am, LOL. I feel completely disorganized, always treading water to keep up. When it comes to writing, I try to devote my weekends to my latest WIP. That’s a habit I developed years ago, and for the most part, I’m pretty good sticking with it. When you do something often enough, it becomes routine.

 

Which is your favorite book and why?

Of the books I’ve written? It’s a tie between A Cold Tomorrow, book 2 of my Point Pleasant series, and Cusp of Night, my most recent release. A Cold Tomorrow is focused on the Mothman but also delves deeply into the mythology of UFO flaps, flicker phenomenon, and cross dimensions. The research was fascinating. It’s also research that draws me to Cusp of Night. The story has two timelines—one in the present, and one in the late 1800s—with both converging at the end. For the 1800s, my research was focused on the Spiritualism movement, table tilting, ghostly rappings, and sham mediums. That’s a rabbit hole I’d definitely go down again.

 

What advice do you have for writers who want to use their blogs to market their books?

Don’t overdo the marketing. Our blogs are the place where we can market and not feel guilty about it, but there’s more to blogging than self-promo. Mix it up with fun and interesting posts about things you love to do. About your writing journey. Invite other authors to do guest posts and provide them promo spots when they have new releases. The blogging/writing community is an awesome one. Visit your fellow/sister bloggers, learn about them, and become friends. Writing is just as much about connecting as putting words on paper. Don’t neglect that side of it.

How do you define success?

That’s a tough question, because I measure different levels of success. As a kid, my dream was to be a published author. I’ve achieved that. I wanted to be read by others. I’ve achieved that, too. Locally, I’m starting to garner recognition and have been invited to guest speak at community events (I have another engagement coming up in November). I am not, however, earning enough to write full-time which is my ultimate dream. I’m very happy with the levels of success I’ve achieved, but I have an A-type personality, so I’m still chasing dragon tails and the brass ring. If nothing else, it’s an enjoyable journey!

 

Mae Claire - Cusp of Night
Cusp of Night Book Cover

Will you share something from your most recent novel? 

 

I’d love to. Thank you for asking. And thank you for inviting me to visit your blog, Rob! I hope your readers enjoy this short excerpt from Cusp of Night:

 

Maya walked home, keeping to the main road. With the lack of traffic and city sounds, surrounded by old buildings and cobbled sidewalks, it was easy to imagine herself in Charlotte Hode’s era.

 

“Ugn…”

 

The groan prickled the hair on the back of her neck. She froze at the mouth of an alley, primed for flight.

 

“Who’s there?”

 

The croak came again, sluggish and low, the unmistakable sound of someone in pain. Maybe it was some stupid kid playing a game.

 

“This isn’t funny.”

 

Her stomach lurched to her throat. If someone really was hurt and she did nothing, she’d never forgive herself. It was a passing motorist who’d called for help when her car had careened off the road.

 

Cautious, she inched closer to the mouth of the cutaway. The illumination from the nearest street lamp only carried a few feet, barely edging into the dark maw. “Is someone there?”

 

Slipping her hand into her pocket, she felt for her cell phone. One call to 911 would bring help or keep her safe if the situation deteriorated. A few steps more and she could discern a man slumped against the side of a building.

 

“Sir, are you hurt?” God help her if he was drunk. She kept a safe distance, and activated the flashlight on her phone.

The man shifted, angling toward her. Something large loomed up behind him, a shadow rising from the ground. It took Maya a moment to realize the thing had been squatting there all along, silent in the nightscape—a monstrosity shrouded in black with a pulpy head and eyes that burned white cinders.

 

She screamed.

 

The creature ran, deft as a whistle of air, swallowed by the bloated shadows of the alley.

 

 

 

Bookcover Cusp of Night Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend. Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house--a woman whose ghost may still linger. Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .
Cusp of Night

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend. 

 

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.

 

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

 

Purchase Books by Mae Clair

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

 

BookBub | Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Goodreads | Amazon | Other Social Links

 

Interview with Mae Clair Rob Goldstein,  2018