Happy Fourth of July 2023 – Oregon Capitol Chronicle

Happy Fourth of July

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On July 4, 1776, Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence, marking the separation of the 13 colonies from Britain and the birth of America. The country was run entirely by white men then: It took nearly a century and a bloody, four-year Civil War for Black men to win the right to vote, with women following 50 years later.

Though everyone aged 18 and older now has the right to vote, doing so has become increasingly difficult in some states. This year at least 11 states have enacted restrictive voting laws, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a New York-based nonprofit that advocates for democracy.

The good news is that even more – 13 states – have enacted expansive voting laws, the center found. They include Oregon where the Legislature passed House Bill 2107 this session to increase voter registration through the Oregon Health Authority. The bill, which awaits Gov. Tina Kotek’s signature, expands on the Motor Voter Act of 1993, which enacted automatic voter registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

As you prepare for your barbecues, gatherings and fireworks, consider the current state of our democracy this July 4th and our hard-won independence. That’s what Frederick Douglass, orator, journalist, diplomat and abolitionist, did on this day in 1852 in a speech in Rochester, New York during the Civil War. Douglass used his speech – “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” – to remind people of the gross injustice of slavery. His speech remains appropriate today as a reminder of the injustices that still plague American society. | Read more