We are approaching another election cycle. We are about two and a half months away from the end of all the annoying political ads.
In our modern election process we make every effort to involve every voter. We allow absentee voting about a month and a half before Election Day. We even allow early voters two weeks early at the courthouse. About 30 percent of our voters cast their ballot ahead of the formal Election Day.
We may not urge people to vote often but we do encourage them to vote early.
That was not always the case.
Even back in the 1980s when I worked at the courthouse you had to certify you were not able to go to the polls on Election Day to get an absentee ballot. And no one even mentioned the idea of early voting.
That attitude goes way back in North Dakota history. If you wanted to vote you were supposed to go to the polls on Election Day. The only excuses were physical impairments that prevented travel and physically being out of town.
But there was an effort to ease those restrictions just a little bit in 1912. A Senate bill was introduced to allow women who reside more than a half mile from the poll to vote by absentee ballot. The vote was shifted to the June primary ballot where it failed.
I guess the men were expected to walk or travel by horse or wagon to the poll.
And it wasnâ€™t like women had a lot of reasons to walk even less than half a mile to the cast a ballot. National womenâ€™s suffrage, the 19 Amendment was ratified in August of 1920 and became the law of the land on Aug. 26, 1920.
Prior to that women in North Dakota were only allowed to vote on school elections. This was the concession to womenâ€™s rights in the North Dakota Constitution.
So this election will mark the 90 Anniversary of women having equal access to the polling place. Women and men may want to pause and think about the relatively short history of women casting votes.
And we all need to take voting a little more serious. Voter turnout on elections without a presidential race have historically been less than 50 percent in recent years. And our voting process has been made about as simple as possible.
You have to wonder if half those women who first got the right to vote 90 years ago turned up to vote. Even if they had to walk more than half a mile.