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Alkalay & Smillie, PLLC

in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire

Office: (603) 447-8994
Fax: (603) 297-2866

Articles of Interest

Attorney Edward Alkalay writes a regular column for the Conway Daily Sun newspaper entitled "The Legal Corner." His articles address a wide variety of timely legal issues. Click on the titles below to review his past articles.

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The Legal Corner: The Right to Vote

January 9, 2008

With the New Hampshire primary behind us, I thought that I would dedicate this article to the enormous legal power that all citizens have: the right to vote. With very few exceptions, every citizen over the age of 18 was eligible to cast a vote for his or her candidate in yesterday\'s primary. Many of us take the right to vote for granted - a right that always has and always will define our nation as a democracy. However, despite the collective genius behind our Constitution, the right to vote came slowly and painfully for many.

Two hundred years ago, with rare exceptions, you had to be white, male, and wealthy in order to vote. In certain areas of the country, this excluded over 80% of the population from the political process. It was through the tireless efforts of many that the right to vote has evolved to include nearly 100% of people over 18. Some of the lesser known historical figures who fought for this right include: (1) Thomas Dorr, a little known Rhode Island state legislator, who fought for the poor (non-landowners) to have the right to vote; (2) Alice Paul, a quiet, determined woman, who was jailed three times for advocating for women to have the right to vote; and (3) Bob Moses, a student who suffered physical assaults and serious injuries for helping African Americans register to vote in Mississippi. Many people whose names we will never know were injured, wrongly incarcerated, or killed during their fight for the right to vote for all people.

Fast forward now to the election of 2008. In this election season, this country has several legitimate contenders for the White House who would not have even been eligible to vote in years past. Among the Democrats, it is astonishing to see Barack Obama\'s message of hope and change competing with Hillary Clinton\'s powerful organization and experience. Not only could these two candidates not have voted two hundred years ago, one (Obama) may have been a slave, while the other (Clinton) would have had few rights to exercise in public life. Additionally, another contender, Bill Richardson, would not have had the right to vote due to his Hispanic heritage. Certain Republicans may have had the right to vote, but would never have been able to have serious aspirations of the presidency because of their background: Mitt Romney (because of religion) and Mike Huckabee (because of his modest upbringing) are but two examples.

The next president that we elect will have a profound impact on the laws of this country. Here in New Hampshire we have had the rare ability to impact who the ultimate nominee will be for each party. We should appreciate this no matter who the ultimate winner is. Many have suffered greatly to allow us this opportunity.

Edward D. Alkalay is a partner at Alkalay & Smillie PLLC and can be reached at (603)447-8994 or ed@northconwaylawyers.com. (This article conveys general information and should not be relied on for legal advice without further research and/or consultation with an attorney.)

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By: Edward D. Alkalay