Well, it’s November. Even though there are still 49 more days of autumn to enjoy, I am already mourning the fact that my favorite month is over. And Halloween is over. What is there to look forward to now? *Insert look of horror and terrified screams here* The Election.
Okay, I’m not really looking forward to it. I am looking forward to it being over though. Politics was never something that interested me. When I was young, I didn’t think it mattered because I couldn’t vote and couldn’t do anything to influence the political world. (I was wrong, by the way. There are plenty of things you can do to influence their local, state, and country’s leaders—even if you are young.) When I finally registered to vote, it was a week before my twentieth birthday. I could have registered sooner. I should have… But the point is that I did register, and then I voted for the first time in the 2012 Presidential Election. It was simple, uneventful even. I walked into my polling place, filled out a couple of bubbles, handed in my ballot, and that was it. There was no celebration with balloons or party favors. No one gave me a giant cookie with “Congratulations! You voted!” in red, white, and blue icing. Actually, I don’t even remember if there was a sticker. And while it didn’t necessarily feel like a big deal, it was.
This year’s election seems to be the most stressful and dramatic yet. (I’ve probably said that during every election though.) Every other word out of people’s mouths, and Facebook statuses, for the past few months seems to be about what horrible thing the candidates said or did last. I know who I’ll be voting for next week, so I’m not here to throw my political beliefs at you or try to convince you to vote for a certain candidate. I just want you to vote! That’s it. Just get out there and vote!
I’ve lost track of the number of times this year I’ve heard people say, “Well, I don’t like either candidate, so I just won’t vote.” No! Don’t do that! Do you know what a cop out that is? Do you know what people go through, or have had to go through, to vote? In the United States, women haven’t even had the right to vote for 100 years yet. Women of color and women in other countries have had the right to vote for even less time. Saudi Arabian women were granted the right to vote only last year. It is your right to vote; do not take that for granted.
It’s easy to remind and encourage people to vote, but please do your research for who and what you are voting for too. For comprehensive and unbiased information on all of this year’s candidates, Check out BallotReady.org. You can search every candidate—from President, Senator, and House of Representatives to your local elected officials—who will be on the ballot on November 8th. Please take some time this week to read up on each candidate. Not just five minutes or a quick glance either. Really sit down and do your research. When Election Day rolls around, you’ll be glad you can make an informed decision. Reminder: Do not take your phone/camera to the voting booth with you. The laws vary by state, but it’s highly frowned upon and often illegal to take pictures in the voting booth or of your ballot in general. So just don’t do it. Take a picture with that nifty little “I Voted” sticker instead!
If you care about this country, please vote. If you think women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, American Indians, disabled people, minority religions, and all other minorities deserve equal rights, please vote. If you want to feel safe in the country you call home, please vote. If you care about your children’s future, please vote. If you think the environment needs help, please vote. If you want to be proud of The Land of the Free, please vote. Tell your loved ones, your neighbors, your dog walker, the grocery store clerk. Tell everyone!
Don’t say that your one vote doesn’t matter. It does. Don’t say that you can’t make a difference. You can. Don’t say you don’t have time. You do. Vote early if you have to! Find out where you can vote early here. Whatever you do, please vote.