Register to Vote: Boost Your Mental Health

Register to Vote: Boost Your Mental Health

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The 15th Amendment, granting African-American men the right to vote, was formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution on March 30, 1870. Passed by Congress the year before, the amendment reads: “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Despite the amendment, by the late 1870s, various discriminatory practices were used to prevent African Americans from exercising their right to vote, especially in the South. After decades of discrimination, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that denied blacks their right to vote under the 15th Amendment.

Here are a few reasons why you should exercise your right to vote!

• It Strengthens Social Ties Voting helps to strengthen our social ties, and feeling part of a close-knit society is in turn linked with greater quality of life and longevity, according to Stanford researchers.

• It’s Linked With Reports Of Greater Health A 2011 study in the American Journal of Public Health shows that people are more likely to self-report “fair” or “poor” health in states where there’s below-average voter turnout. “Socioeconomic inequality in political participation (as measured by voter turnout) is associated with poor self-rated health, independently of both income inequality and state median household income,” Harvard researchers wrote in the study.

• It’s Good For Mental Health Among people who are at risk, voting could help to lower stress and even ward off future mental health conditions. Specifically, researcher Lynn Sanders, Ph.D., an associate professor of politics at the University of Virginia, noted that, “I think that people who are on the wrong sides of the disadvantage divide, measured according to anything — health, income, quality of community, or job status — those are the people who stand to benefit most.”

“Politicians and activists typically attempt to motivate ordinary citizens to participate in democracy on the basis of moral appeals or attempts to fix a problem. Our results suggest that it might also be worthwhile to highlight the internal rewards citizens can obtain from being politically engaged: A sense of satisfaction and the experience of pleasant emotions and of connection with others.”

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