When I was in graduate school in Pittsburgh, a fellow student traveled all the way to Washington D.C. in order cast an absentee ballot at his country’s embassy. He did this because he is a South African – officially classified as ‘coloured’ at the time – and it was the first general election with universal suffrage in that country. Though it was a very tiring endeavor to travel several hours, vote, then travel back for classes, he did it because the memory of gaining that right was still too new to be taken for granted.
Go out and vote tomorrow.
If you’re one of those people who thinks their lonely little vote won’t make a difference, I have three words for you: get over yourselves. No, you won’t be The Deciding Vote, but so what? Are you saying that if you can’t make a huge difference then it’s not worth doing anything at all? What about being a role model to friends and family? What about being an example in your school or community? How about being the one that gets other people off their asses to make a difference? Why can’t the act of voting be the difference that you make? The more people who take part in the process, the bigger the difference you can make!
I said, go out and vote tomorrow.
Maybe you are a Democrat in a heavily Republican state, or vice versa. You feel like your vote for either Obama or Romney will be lost in a sea of votes for the other candidate. It might be true. Your state is not going to suddenly swing the other way because you voted. But there is more than just a presidential election at stake on Tuesday. There are Senate and House of Representative seats up for grabs.
Suddenly, your vote becomes more significant.
There are also state Senate and Assembly seats under contention.
And the value of your vote just shot up dramatically.
There may be races for county sheriffs or justices, commissioners of education or public services, attorneys general, or comptrollers. These are the people who have much more direct impact on your daily lives than any president does. There may also be ballot measures that ask you to express how you feel about a certain issue.
Your vote would be a shout from the mountaintops.
Educate yourselves. Go to websites like Project Vote Smart, Vote411, or Smart Voter, non-partisan organizations dedicated to giving people information so they can make an impact by voting for the candidates that would represent the rights and principles they hold dear. You can find everything you need about your Congressional and state districts, who is running, who is an incumbent or a challenger. You can even search by issue which candidates in your particular races would most likely represent your beliefs on that issue. Need to know your polling location? They can tell you that, too.
It won’t be hard. Just get the information and then go vote.
In Turkey, the school I worked at was a voting location in the elections in 1999. I watched as streams of people moved through the school, coming out of the voting rooms with black marks on their forefingers. They were marked so they would not vote twice. This is common practice in a lot of countries, where voting becomes a very public endeavor. Voters advertise themselves with their blackened fingers even though this can be dangerous at times. Some elections can get violent, yet people are willing to risk their very lives because sometimes exercising the right to vote is more important than personal safety.
You won’t even need police protection to go out and vote tomorrow.
Still need more reasons? Here’s a list (borrowed from Holy Cross University):
- So you can complain. If you love to complain in order to see changes, voting is for you.
- It’s your right. Others died for this privilege and now it’s your right.
- Representation. Who’s representing you? Find out and make sure your concerns are their concerns.
- It’s your duty. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy.
- More federal money …for higher education funding, youth programs, the environment, HIV/AIDS or breast cancer research, whatever your cause.
- To cancel out someone’s vote. In disagreement with your parents on certain issues? Cancel them out.
- To bust the stereotype. Young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are said to not care about the issues. Prove them wrong!
- If you don’t, someone else will. Why would you want someone else deciding what’s best for you?
- Every vote counts. Remember the 2000 Election controversy?
- Make some noise! Your opinions matter. It’s time to be heard.
Want even more? Go over to CNN and hear it straight from the voters. Forty-seven of them, to be exact, of which a few are: others died for your right to vote; use it or lose it; no vote, no complaining; have a say in your future; have a say in your children’s future; cancel out another vote; and apathy gets old after a while.
Whatever reason appeals to you, just go out and vote tomorrow.
I know that I’m either preaching to the choir or that my words are falling on deaf ears. I don’t know if writing this and putting it out into the public ether will make any sort of difference. If it helps change even one mind, then I’m happy. If not, I’m still happy. You know why?
Because I made an effort.
And that’s why I am going to vote tomorrow. I know my vote will be cancelled out (by my boyfriend, Buzz, no less!) But I don’t care. I refuse to keep my voice silent just because someone else might be talking at the same time.
My voice matters.
Your voice matters.