As early as 1848, numerous women’s groups were lending their time, their energy and their imaginations to the fight for the right to vote in the United States. The suffragettes were not victorious until 70 years later when the 19th amendment prohibiting sex-based voting restrictions by state or federal governments was ratified and became the law of the land.

In the mid-1960s, tens of thousands marched in favor of extending voting rights to black Americans. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, which prohibited race-based restrictions on voting rights. It is widely regarded as one of the most effective pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history.

Nearly 50 years later, in nations all around the world, women and other marginalized populations still lack the ability to have a say in their own futures.

The freedom to express your support or opposition to the leaders or policies that will directly affect your quality of life is not only a constitutional right but also a privilege intrinsic to democratic society and one that should not be taken for granted. It exists so that governments can reflect the will of the people.

In the run-up to the mid-terms, The Junior League of Minneapolis published this detailed guide to the issues at stake and the candidates vying to lead in Minnesota and beyond. It also pointed us in the direction of theSkimm, which has published a comprehensive guide to the elections in 15 states where something significant could happen, on topics ranging from immigration and minimum wage to political malfeasance and the economy.

On November 4, Election Day here in the States, cast your ballot and show that you don’t take the right to vote for granted. You will be honoring those who fought so hard for it.