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People don't realize the struggles Americans went through to get the right to vote

As an American history educator, I have always thought that a key factor in evaluating teacher performance should be voter turnout.

Once again American History educators from elementary school through college received a failing grade last Tuesday when less then half of eligible voters performed their civic duty and voted ("'Low but steady' turnout seen at Maryland polls," Nov. 5).

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I do not think American History courses teach that the vast majority of Americans had to fight with blood, sweat and tears to get the right to vote. When our nation was formed, only white men who owned land or had a taxable income had the right cast a ballot. The Constitution said nothing about voting and left who could vote up to the states, and we know how well that turned out for the nation.

If you review American history textbooks and curriculum, there is only a passing mention of the struggles by African Americans, women, and 18-year-olds to get the right to vote. The fight for the right to vote should be the centerpiece of any American history class. If American history educators take on this responsibility I believe we will witness more people going to the polls because the American public will realize what is at stake and what it took for them to have the right to vote and the fight to keep it!

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Roger Caplan, Columbia

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