Please, and I can’t stress this enough, vote. There are endless reasons to do so. I won’t list them all, because I have somewhere to be next week, but I think it’s important to educate ourselves on why exercising our right to vote matters. It is something people have done since 1776. Thankfully, it’s not just land-owning white men over the age of 21 anymore, but people from all walks of life who recognize that their voice matters. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, protecting women’s suffrage. I started thinking about how far we have come as a nation and how the need for voting is still very much relevant and always will be. It gives us a chance to voice our opinions and beliefs as a democracy. There are so many things we can’t control in life, but making sure we stand up for what we want is one thing we can. It’s essential for any change to actually occur.
Fortunately, it’s so easy to do. You aren’t 18 yet? Pre-register! It only takes two minutes to go to www.vote.org and register or check your status if you are unsure. In this day and age, it’s essential that we get young voters to the polls as we make up roughly 31% of the overall electorate, according to NPR. After the last presidential election, there has been a surge of new voters, thankfully, and an emphasis on educating others on its importance in the upcoming 2020 election. On social media, some celebrities have endorsed candidates and used their platform to encourage their followers to register and vote when the time comes. Little things like that make a big difference.
Another noteworthy issue is the restrictions that many voters face. It’s easy for me to tell you to just get out there and vote, but the sad truth of the matter is that it’s not that simple for some. Various forms of disenfranchisement still plague parts of our country and make it incredibly hard for people to exercise their rights. The Voting Right Act of 1965 has helped us make progress in overcoming barriers that prevented African Americans and other marginalized groups from voting. For instance, millions of incarcerated people, many of whom are people of color, cannot vote while serving time, according to Demos. In Southern states especially, voters “face restrictive policies such as strict registration deadlines, photo identification requirements, and racially-motivated redistricting” (McElwee). Institutionalized racism is still prevalent in our election system, though it’s not as severe as it used to be. The fact that certain groups are still targeted, like people of color, impoverished people, and young people, just goes to show that changes need to be made. No one who is eligible to vote should be challenged in any way to do so.
Furthermore, we need to remember to vote for the smaller elections as well. The votes for our state senators, congressmen and women, and governors matter enormously as they are a big determining factor in the electoral votes.
Parties aside, we need to remember why we are voting and what it means to us. We aren’t just voting for ourselves. We are voting for each other. We are voting for our friends and family. We are voting for a better future for our children. We are voting for the people who still think their voices won’t be heard in a sea of others, but they will.
Every vote counts. It’s time to care. It’s time to vote.