On the eve of yet another Election Day, I feel compelled to put some words out into the great beyond to ruminate on (but not for too long) regarding voting in the United States.
I view voting as a foundational right that I possess as an American Citizen, but I also consider voting to be a privilege because as with most everything we experience in our modern day world, the people who came before us fought hard to ensure it exists.
The United States averages a 50 percent voter turn out on Election Day.
Let’s come back to that…
Throughout this nation’s younger years there were some incredibly oppressive laws that were firmly set in place with little hope of change. But like a colony of ants, people who would not accept being considered less equal than the human standing next to them merely based on skin color or gender worked tirelessy and began to push back. They raised their voices to disrupt the comfortable norm; they stood up in the face of intimidation, fear, and violence. They wanted a say in the decisions that shape what this country is and will be by casting a vote.
You’d think after all the years fighting for the right to vote it would be time to relax and enjoy the benefits of your hard work. Time to go cast that ballot! This certainly seemed to be the case in 1920 when approximately 8 million women came out to vote for the first time.
However, Jim Crow Laws strategically prevented voters of color from registering to vote and/or allowing them to cast a ballot on Election Day without serious repercussions and so, the fight continued. There were countless people injured and many lives were lost before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted.
The ability to vote is incredibly sacred; unfortunately, those who are kept from exercising that right are the ones who fully realize just how important it is.
Voting has an impact on every single concern of the everyday citizen. Like what you ask?
Environmental concerns, taxes, food production and its quality, education, health services, infrastructure, land use and/or protection, upkeep of public spaces such as libraries, and parks, allocation of funds within state budgets, etc. The list is virtually endless.
Essentially we get to choose individuals to represent us collectively and advocate for the concerns we deem to be of great importance. If you have a kid maybe you want that child to oh I don’t know, have a teacher in their classroom? You can vote to protect school budgets. I could truly go on all day, but I won’t. Why? Because you don’t have time to waste sitting here reading this post, you’ve got to get yourself down to the polls and cast that ballot!
Maybe you think your vote won’t matter and so you are planning to sit it out. Well here are some election outcomes that hinged on a single vote.
Perhaps what you’ve read here is motivating you to vote but you haven’t registered. Well, click here to register on this non-partisan site. How do you know if you’re still registered? After all, some states have a “use it or lose it” policy (which you could vote to change!) and if you’ve sat some elections out your name may have been removed from the rolls. How do you know if you’re still registered? Click here to check quickly and painlessly.
Getting back to it, an average of 50 percent of Americans vote on Election Day. With those sorts of statistics, I’d say that there’s room for improvement. Those are the sorts of numbers where assumptions are made that people just don’t care. Those are the numbers where the right to vote can be put at stake when we aren’t all staying vigilant with checks and balances.
Protect your right to vote by exercising your right to vote, and honor those who came before you by recognizing this right as the privilege it is.
It’s also widely rumored that when you go to vote you get a sticker, so there’s that too.
Happy voting to one and all.