Vote to Make a Difference
I’ll admit that I haven’t been following politics as diligently as I used to lately, largely because the news either stresses or bums me out. But with the 2020 presidential election in less than a month, I’ve found myself cautiously tuning into CNN on TV and following news accounts on Twitter again. And while it’s no doubt stressful, staying up-to-date on what’s happening in this turbulent country in this equally turbulent election has been a good thing, mostly. Because, among other positive outcomes, it’s reminded me of why voting isn’t just important—but crucial.
The first time I voted was two years ago in the midterm elections. Even though I’m a registered democrat in a blue district in a blue state, not exercising my right to vote never crossed my mind. I was too young to vote in the 2016 election, so on the semi-frequent occasion when I’d hear an adult talk about how they didn’t vote because they “didn’t think it mattered,” it pissed me off. Here I was, a passionate, socially active seventeen-year-old eager to participate in this great thing called democracy, and they were acting like not voting was as insignificant as forgetting to brush your teeth.
(And, by the way, when these aforementioned adults then proceeded to complain about the results, my blood started to boil. If you choose not to vote, then you don’t have the right to complain IMO.)
Literally the day after my eighteenth birthday, I visited an amazing site called Vote.gov and filled out my voter registration. (Fun fact; you can actually preregister before eighteen!) Not long after, I received the official record of my registration in the mail. For as long as I can remember, I’ve tagged along to the local polls—aka the cafeteria of my former middle school—with my mom when she voted, so being able to finally vote with her that November was exhilarating. I left the polls with a Just Voted! sticker and the feeling that I was making a difference.
The thing about voting, I’ve learned, is that it’s so much more than simply choosing a candidate and bubbling in their name on a piece of paper. With that choice comes issues like education, employment, healthcare, and equality. Being knowledgeable about who your options are and where they stand on the things that matter to you, regardless of political affiliation, is a vital part of the process and is almost as important as “getting out” to the polls. (I use air quotes because absentee and mail-in are also valid methods of voting for people who either can’t or don’t want to vote in-person.) It’s this lack of knowledge and herd mentality that leads to underqualified or even corrupt candidates being elected in the first place.
There are so many reasons why you should vote, and especially in a year as simultaneously crazy and imperative as 2020, your vote and your voice matter immensely. So please, vote. And don’t just vote; vote for equality. Vote for justice. Vote for the younger generations who can’t. Vote for the betterment of marginalized communities. Vote to make a difference.