| CHRIS BIGGS
Secretary of State
STATE OF KANSAS
|Memorial Hall, 1st Floor
120 SW 10th Avenue
Topeka, KS 66612-1594
For Immediate Release
Friday, September 17, 2010
Tyler Longpine, Public Affairs Director
Office of the Secretary of State
SECRETARY OF STATE CHRIS BIGGS COMMEMORATES CONSTITUTION DAY
TOPEKA, KS – The following remarks were delivered Secretary of State Chris Biggs on the occasion of Constitution Day on September 17th 2010:
“The right to vote has not come to us freely, nor has it always been exercised with ease. Scores of individuals whom we know by name, as well as countless others who are known to us only in spirit, sacrificed life and limb to realize freedom and protect our right to exercise it. Today is a day that we celebrate their sacrifice, and I ask that all Kansans reflect on their contribution to our civic life.
The early history of Kansas was defined by the struggle for freedom and the right to vote. Abolitionists in Kansas believed that all men were created equal and that race shouldn’t exempt you from the freedoms guaranteed to citizens. The violent objection to this simple premise led to the era of Bleeding Kansas and the Civil War. Through this difficulty, our state emerged on the right side of history. Abolitionists prevailed; slaves were given their freedom, and their right to vote is now enshrined in the 15th Amendment.
But in the story of universal suffrage, that was only the first chapter. During the same time women in Kansas were preparing to write the next.
In 1861 forwarding thinking Suffragists in Kansas attempted to strike the word “male” from the franchise clause of the Kansas constitution. Their unyielding efforts eventually secured their right to vote in 1912, eight years before the 19th Amendment was ratified.
But the story doesn’t end there.
In my lifetime, we’ve seen the right to vote extended to even more Americans.
The 24th Amendment abolished the poll tax, guaranteeing that every eligible citizen could vote, regardless of income. The 26th Amendment guaranteed the right to vote to all adults by lowering the voting age to 18.
History instructs us not to take this right for granted, and to do so would dishonor the sacrifice of those who marched, those who organized, and those who died to secure the right to vote. Now is not the time to turn back.
One of the most solemn duties of the Secretary of State is to protect the right to vote and there is nothing I take more seriously than guaranteeing every eligible Kansan has the right to vote in fair and accessible elections.
Moving forward, I challenge all Kansans who are eligible to vote to do so. It is our right and it is a responsibility that we should exercise. In 2008, 1 in 4 eligible Kansas voters did not cast a ballot on Election Day. That’s why as Secretary of State I am committed to overcoming voter apathy to increase participation in elections.”