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Low Literacy and Voting


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“With our thoughts, we make the world.” ~ Buddha


Halloween is almost over and we hope it was fun, safe, and spooky for all the kiddos! I love seeing all the costumes and the houses decorated for this very favorite holiday.

Now it’s time to get down to the importance of literacy and your vote.

According to U.S. Code §10508, any voter who requires assistance to vote because of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write may be assisted by a person of the voter’s choice, other than the voter’s employer or agent of that employer or officer or agent of the voter’s union. Yet with redistricting and the numerous new State laws targeting people of color and other minorities, voting for people who struggle to read is challenging. According to ProLiteracy, more than 35 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third-grade level. An estimated 63 million adults only read between a sixth and with grade level. Children of those parents have a 72% chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. Parents are our first teachers.

Understanding a ballot is difficult when one is a proficient reader as many of the statements are confusing. When a person has low or no literacy skills, knowledgeable voting is almost impossible. Some states have required those who need help to sign an affidavit explaining why they need assistance. Other states do not allow voters to bring sample ballots to the polls and some states limit the number of voters a volunteer may assist. Even when federal courts strike down these restrictions, states create more obstacles.

Voter suppression is real, yet voting is a right of all Americans. The cost of illiteracy to American taxpayers has climbed to $250 billion a year. When someone can’t read, they are excluded from innumerable activities that allow them to function as a human or to reach a level of success. Many are forced to live in poverty. Our prisons are filled with illiterate inmates.

The midterm elections are upon us. Carefully read the sample ballots and if you know someone who has difficulty reading, read the information to them.

Although our young children cannot vote, READ to them daily. Reading to kids early on can help to boost literacy rates over the long term. An estimated 77% of children who are read to are more likely to read or attempt to read on their own, versus 57% of kids who don't have regular story time at home. Growing up in a literacy-rich environment will one day enable them to be voters who understand what’s on the ballot.

In California, one proposition on the ballot that is not contested is Proposition 28 which will provide the arts to our students. As a mom, actor, author, artist, and coach, I’m asking you to Vote YES on California Proposition 28 on the November 8 ballot. If passed, Proposition 28 will funnel nearly $1 billion annually in new funding to arts and music education in our PreK-12 public schools. All without raising taxes!

A well-rounded education might start with language and math, science and history. But it is not complete without the arts, and on that score, too many California schoolchildren are getting shortchanged.

When the state budgets get tight, arts and music programs are often the first to go. As a result, barely 1 in 5 California elementary schools have full-time art and music program.

Children deserve an opportunity to discover and develop their creative talents. Plus, research shows that students in art classes tend to do better in other subjects and are less likely to miss school. Arts education also correlates to better mental and physical well-being.

For the adults reading this newsletter, remember your vote matters. The political environment has been especially hostile, negative, and violent this season. Study the reference guide to familiarize yourself with the ballot. Vote for the people, policies, and programs that will create a better environment for our nation, our states, and our communities, as well as for you.


With gratitude,

Cynthia on Points of Light Inspiration honor Roll:


by Karen Kitchel

This election season can create stress and division, but it also presents an opportunity to inspire kindness with our words and actions.

The Inspire Kindness organization captures many ideas to make the world a kinder place. They offer some good tips to inspire kindness in conversations.

Be kind today, tomorrow, and always!

Karen Kitchel who penned two chapters in the book, Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World, is the Kindness Coordinator volunteer with BTSYA. She serves meals to the homeless and is a volunteer teacher, writer, job coach, and mentor.


Passion, Purpose, & Possibility Producer

Empowerment Architect
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