WorldView: A Language Blog

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The Color Purple: Voting Courageously at Home and Abroad

Published: November 2, 2020

Power to the Purple 

All around the world, democracy’s march is colored purple. In countries like India, Iraq, and Afghanistan, voters dip their fingers in purple ink to make sure they don’t vote twice. In the United States, women suffragettes marching for voting rights wore purple to demonstrate loyalty and dignity. The children’s book Bold & Brave tells their story. Many were brave women of color. Lillian’s Right to Vote shares the story of Grandma Lillian and the struggles of African Americans to gain the right to vote. These stories all highlight why voting is a profile in courage.   

For this month's Good Reads, we've collected stories about voting and democracy from around the globe.

Voting and Young People

As we grow up, we are taught that voting is our civic duty. But what does that really mean? The National Geographic offers a great article for grades 5–8. And Teen Vogue asked activists, politicians and many others why it is worth voting in the 2020 elections. Their answer: the election is not just about Trump vs. Biden.

People not yet old enough to vote may think of it as something abstract. Yet voting is really about making courageous choices. People of all ages make those choices every day. Confronting a bully. Standing up for what you think is right. Volunteering. Treating others with respect. Rosa Parks changed America simply by refusing to give up her seat on the bus. Women and men put their lives and reputations on the line fighting for voting rights. Migrants and refugees participate in German politics—even if they can't vote. Whether big or small, these choices often demand great courage. 

Our villagers may also be interested to know that citizens of Nicaragua, Scotland, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Cuba, Brazil, and Austria can vote when they are 16. Should the voting age be lowered to 16 in the United States? Check out Debate Wise for some pros and cons. And for the youngest among us, One Vote, Two Votes, I Vote, You Vote is part of the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library and an engaging easy read. Accompanying activities are available through Scholastic. Today on Election Day explores the voting process and the history of voting, helping kids understand that voting matters. 

Votes around the World

The many cultures represented by Concordia Language Villages offer a vibrant mosaic of voting habits. Africa is about to hold a whole host of elections. Universal suffrage has been Finnish law since 1906, when Finland became the first European country to recognize women’s right to vote. Italians voted boldly this year to slash the size of their parliament by a third. Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France all have ways of voting that are different than in the United States. In Brazil, voting is mandatory. This spring, South Koreans voted in the middle of the pandemic. This summer, Russians in the Far East protested for weeks, offering fascinating glimpses into democracy in Russia. In Taiwan, civil observers watch the ballot-counters to make sure they get it right. And in Japan, voting still largely means writing something on a piece of paper using a pencil.  

One vote really can make a difference. Three U.S. Presidents—Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams and Rutherford B. Hayes—were each elected by one vote. California, Washington, Idaho, Texas and Oregon each gained statehood by one vote. And for John McCain, a lifetime of courage, contradictions and contrarianism came down to one vote, in the middle of the night, in the twilight of his career.  

Concordia Language Villages strongly encourages all our United States readers who are qualified to exercise their civic duty and vote! Information on how to vote in your state can be found at

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