Recently I signed up to participate in a letter writing campaign that encourages Americans, who normally don’t vote, to register to vote and head to polls on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 to cast their votes (or mail in their ballots if it’s still not safe to vote in person). The letter doesn’t promote any candidates or policies or parties. Instead, it encourages the recipient to simply vote. As part of the letter, I am to write why I vote in every election. And, I have voted in every election since I turned 18 back in 1988. I can remember that very first time I voted at Plain Congregational Church, standing in line, signing my name and punching the card board ballot. A sense of pride in being an American flowed through me as I placed the “I voted” sticker on my chest. It still does.
Voting is one of the ways I can make my voice heard. I admit at times I wondered what the point of standing in line to record my vote actually was. My attitude waivered as what difference does one vote really make. I questioned whether voting for a third-party or independent candidate was a waste of a vote. Was it really better to vote for “the lesser of two evils?” or just skip voting all together. Seemingly who was the president, my senators, house represenative or governer didn’t have much effect on my day to day life. I still voted, but the power of the vote lost it’s luster.
Now though, more than ever I realize how important voting really is. If everyone casts their one vote, together we can make changes. Are the current politicians corrupt? Are people underserved? Are you unhappy with the current policies? Vote them out. You can’t win the lotto if you don’t buy a ticket and you can’t change the government officials if you don’t vote. According to Pew Research Center only 55.7% of voting-age Americans, actually did in the last presidential election. Of voting-age Americans that were registered to vote, only 86.8% voted. 24% of voting-age Americans are not even registered to vote. Those numbers are disheartening. I know that people face long lines (although people camp out over night for Black Friday sales and stand in line for hours to ride a roller coaster!) and other obstacles prevent people from voting (being turned away as not being registered, not having proper ID, not having transportation to the polls, polling hours that don’t match their work schedules, fear of getting COVID-19 voting imperson, not allow mail-in/absentee ballots, fewer polling places etc.), which is why we need to pass laws make it easier for people to register to vote and prevent voter suppression. Everyone can vote and still protect the system from fraud (which is extremely rare, See http://voterfraudfacts.com/). I am confident that we have the technology to make this happen. Mail-in voting in Ohio has worked in the past, can work in other states and is valid alternative to in-person voting.
While I may not have admitted it back then, but government was one of my favorite classes in high school. For a brief moment, I even considered majoring in polical science. The foresight of the founders’ system of checks and balances and the three separate, but equal branches intrigued me. The perserverance and sacrifice of the activitists that secured my right to vote inspired me. That’s one of the reasons, I vote in every election. I owe it to the women that came before me, who never had the opportunity to vote to do so.
Over the past four years, I’ve become much more aware of politics and our government. I have woken up from complacency to want to make a difference. I’ve written to my senators and representatives, participated in marches and protest demonstrations. I want to do more, but the idea of going door to door or cold-calling people left me feeling bereft – both are way out of my comfort zone. So, when I saw this letter writing opportunity, I got excited!
– If you haven’t registered to vote yet, make sure you do! You can do it online! Go here: https://www.vote.org/register-to-vote/.
– If you haven’t filled out your 2020 census, do that too! The census determines funding and how many represensentatives we have!
– If you are interested in writing letters to encourage others to vote, you can check out the details at Vote Forward.
Finally, if you are like me you may struggle with knowing what news is real and what news is fake. I worry my biases are preventing me from seeing the candidates for who they are. As human’s confirmation bias is strong. So, I was excited to find Ground News. It is an app that uses an algorithm to give you links to the same news story from multiple points of view from the various political biases. I’ve found it helpful to read the various “takes” to help me form my own opinions instead of relying on one source.