Pat Cunningham, Grady County Historical Society
Tuesday, November 6, 2012 Americans will be casting their vote for many candidates for office, various questions and/or amendments. This act of casting a vote for a particular person or question has not always been easy or possible for everyone. At the beginning of the United States of America, the only people or citizens allowed to cast a vote were “propertied white men”.
Both federal and state laws determine who is eligible to vote in the U.S. Since the Civil War, at least four of the amendments to the U.S. Constitution were “ratified specifically to extend voting rights to different groups of people”. Gradually, women, African Americans, Native Americans, and those eighteen years of age were extended the right to vote. In addition, payment of a poll tax was prohibited. Each of these groups has fought a long battle to be considered eligible for the basic “right to vote in the United States”. For some it even involved a battle first to be considered a “person” and thus a “citizen”.
There are still some restrictions to voting. These are usually state based. Frequently, a voter must register a set number of days prior to an election; convicted felons are prohibited from voting; and currently, the newest problem with voting rights involves the “homeless”.
Here, in Grady County, citizens will be voting at their precinct with each site having its own ballot box. This voting site is determined by a person’s place of residence. This voting right also involves when voting for the first time or after a move, registering with the Election Board a set number of days prior to the election.
On view in the east outside window at The Dixie Building, home of the Grady County Museum, is a group of vintage ballot boxes used in Grady County. The boxes are metal except one which is wood. Two of the boxes have been marked for previous precinct sites. One is labeled “South School” which is the current location of Head Start in Chickasha. Another box has been marked in the past for the Pursley Township with heavy paint. It has been painted over, but the name can still be read. The Pursley Township is located directly south of the Bradley Township in southeastern Grady County. This box still has the traditional three locks and keys which most ballot boxes have used. Each matching lock and key is color coded red, white, or blue. Stop by the front window at the Museum to see some of the ballot boxes used in the County during earlier times.
Remember to exercise your hard earned privilege to vote!
The Grady County Museum is located in The Dixie Building in downtown Chickasha, OK at 415 W. Chickasha Avenue. The Museum is open M-F from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. For additional information contact 405-224-6480, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.gradycountyhistorical.org.