The City Space

Cultivating Urban Understanding

Why I Vote

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U.S. Citizens Head To The Polls To Vote In Presidential Election

Tomorrow is Election Day and if you’re eligible, you should vote. I know we’re not putting in a new president any time soon, but the first Tuesday in November matters every single year. Here’s why I vote:

  • I vote because it counts. The cynic will tell you your vote is insignificant. However, that cynic probably wasn’t in Minnesota during the 2008 election cycle when our senate race came down to 225 votes and we waded through eight months of exacerbated counting to finally pull Al Franken out as the winner. The cynic who disparages your voting power has probably parroted his line to a hundred other people and if they all listen to him and his cynical friends, that’s thousands of people who won’t vote either. My vote counts and so does yours.
  • I vote because it is a simple way to take part in democracy. I research the candidates, listen to their policy statements, then walk down to the polling place and fill in the circle next to one of their names. As long as your neighborhood isn’t being targeted by voter suppression tactics (which, admittedly, some are), your trajectory to the voting booth shouldn’t be much harder than mine. Information about registration and locations are readily available online and employers in most states are required by law to offer time off for voting. If you have a transportation issue, there’s probably someone working a campaign who is more than willing to give you a ride or offer you a bus pass. This is one of the few moments during the year when you can’t shake your head at bombs going off on the TV and say, “I wish I could do something about that, but I’m too busy/powerless/far away.” Voting is the simplest access point into democracy.
  • I vote because it is still exciting for me. This is only the fifth time I’ve been old enough to do it and the novelty has not worn off. I remember one spring a couple years ago when I happened to be home from college during a primary election where three-quarters of the candidates were unchallenged and I, nonetheless, took great pride in marching down to the polling place to make my mark. And I wore the sticker afterward with pride.
  • I vote because it is my right and I might as well hold onto the ones I’ve still got.
  • I vote because it is not everyone’s right and I do them a disservice by being flippant with it. Around the world and throughout the pillars of history, women, immigrants, people of color, non-landowners and almost every demographic has been excluded from participation in the democratic process. As someone who is able to vote because of tireless activism on the part of my foremothers and because of my own privilege, I owe it to those who are excluded from participation to listen to their needs and to vote for a candidate who will advance their rights.

Tomorrow I’m voting in a City Council member and a mayor, and that is no small thing. These are politicians I’ve met face to face. They live in my city and they have the power to lead my city in the direction of prosperity and justice. I hope you’ll take time out of your own day tomorrow to tangibly participate in the democratic process and vote for the people who can do positive things for your city too.

Photo from The Baltimore Sun.

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