Today is election day, and because it’s a midterm election, today has been talked about a lot. If you haven’t voted before today, you should vote today. You should stop reading this and go vote right now. Then come back and hear my plea to you about voting.
Two things I’ve been obsessed with since I was small: Serving on a jury, and voting. These are both things many people think aren’t important or try to avoid, but I could not WAIT until I was old enough to vote (still waiting for my time in court, so to speak). My mom always took me into the voting booth with her, until I was deemed too old and wasn’t allowed (I was devastated). She taught me the voting strategy for how to vote when you don’t know anything about the race: First looking for women democrats, then women, then democrats. There was never the option to not vote for something, after all, every person who isn’t a white man was not granted the right to vote without a fight. A fight that cost people their lives. So voting may seem like an annoyance, but it’s not. It’s honoring those who came before you, who fought for years for you to be able to make choices about your community and country.
So few people vote in local elections, and it is something I get very upset about. How could you not want to have a say in what happens in your neighborhood? How could you go through your life knowing you could have had a hand in how much money schools get, or who is prosecuting your neighbors, or the condition of the streets where you walk and drive, and the parks where your kids, or anyone’s kids, play? It is unfathomable to me, and yet most of my peers don’t vote in local elections.
And there’s such a easy fix. In many states you can register to be a by-mail voter. This is completely unrelated to absentee voting. I have lived in two states with vote by mail available. One was California, where you have to request to have your ballots mailed to you, and the other is where I live now, Washington, where everyone automatically votes by mail (for free!). Every time there is an election that you qualify to vote in, you are sent a ballot and a voter’s guide. This is amazing and ideal for two reasons: One, because you get a ballot for every election you can vote in, you never miss an opportunity to vote (remember, people dedicated their lives, and gave their lives, so you could do this. You should vote every chance you get). Two, you can take time on your ballot in the comfort of your home. Don’t know what a race is about? Look it up! Use that voter’s guide! A great resource is the League of Women Voters, who provide all kinds of resources including progressive voting guides. Another is the Progressive Voters Guide, which is so ridiculously easy to use, it practically fills out the ballot for you.
If you don’t want to vote progressively I, in the past, would have supported you. I used to think that as long as you voted, that was fine. We all have our own opinions. But in the past few years I’ve changed my mind. If you have any understanding of current events and don’t vote progressively, you are in the wrong, and history will not look kindly on you.
Just a few final notes: Your employer is likely legally bound to allow you to vote during work hours. And in some instances, if they penalize you for voting during work hours, there are serious consequences. If you want to find out more, this is a great resource. This isn’t an issue if you have vote by mail, another reason why we should all have automatic voter registration and vote by mail. If you don’t have vote by mail where you live, and you wish you did, speak up! Maybe there’s an organization in your area that is already working on this! Find out! Then let me know! Vote by mail is maybe my favorite thing about being a citizen!