I have sat here for 30 minutes trying to think of a way to introduce today’s post, but considering it won’t be long, I will just get straight into the facts. We all know how important it is to vote and to exercise that right as American citizens. We also see that there are arguably many plausible reasons to not vote depending on how you grew up and/or your demographic in this country. As someone who is a part of two major marginalized groups–being black and being a woman–I am here to tell you that I understand why you may think it’s pointless to vote. We see the way certain people are treated in society, regardless of who’s in the White House, and we ask ourselves, “How is a vote for one person going to erase or change the history that has laid the groundwork for the continued ill treatment of anyone that’s not a straight white man?” The short answer is one vote will not change that. It is important to grasp, however, that voting goes beyond the person in the White House that we elect every four years. We need to do the work to start electing people from the top in D.C. to the ground floor of our local counties that we feel best represents our interests at the time of an election.
Obviously we cannot go back in time and redo anything, but here is what I have come to learn. There are so, so many resources to break down politics for those who either do not understand it or get overwhelmed by it. A lot of people have spent time creating infographics and slides on social media to break down basic concepts; from there, you can do further personal research about candidates or policies that you would like to better understand. Growing up, I was absolutely overwhelmed by politics and, quite frankly, I still am. How can we trust individual people to represent multitudes of diverse, independently-thinking people? We know people are motivated by greed, so we hope for changes that logically benefit more people than not and when those changes don’t happen, we know it’s because there are handshakes and threats taking place behind closed doors (thank you, Shonda Rhimes). The system is broken, corrupt, outdated, you name it. How can anyone remain hopeful? It is extremely difficult. But after I realized that every decision I make and my pure existence as a black woman in this country is political, it clicked that I have a responsibility to people like me that have come before me with far less freedoms than I have, and to be a part of the change to benefit those that will come after me. This is why it is important to find a way to better learn this information for ourselves and for future generations so we can shake up history instead of allowing it to be cyclic. Before you say, “Why do I need to think of future generations if I may not get to see the change myself,” well, 1. I sure wish someone thought of my generation before I became part of the voting demographic, and 2. I don’t know how to tell you you should care about other people. There is nothing wrong with being realistic, but cynicism has never benefitted anyone.
For my Texans, TOMORROW IS THE LAST DAY TO REGISTER TO VOTE!!!!!!!!! Please do not register to vote through social media. Visit Vote Texas for all information on the voting process. If you are confident you are already registered to vote, check again as acts of voter suppression are already in full effect. Verify that your address matches what is on your voter registration card or driver’s license; if it does not, change it ASAP or be prepared to go vote in the area that is listed.
Early voting by personal appearance (in-person) in Texas begins October 13th and ends October 30th. Speaking of voter suppression, it is important to note two major changes that can 100% discourage people from hitting the polls:
1. Absentee ballot voting locations/drop-offs have been limited to one per county. Y’all know how big Texas is… some of these locations can be up to 50 miles away from where you live and if you are an elderly person, a person of any age with a disability, or someone who works around the clock to support your family, this may be impossible;
2. Straight-ticket voting has been eliminated. Previously, you could select a political party and it would automatically place a vote for anyone at any level of administration that is in the same party. Now, you will have to individually elect each person and I already know how many people are thinking, “I’m expected to stand in a long line, wearing a mask, and then have to go through a long ballot? I’ll sit this one out.”
Both of these changes are reasons why you should take advantage of early voting!! Go get tested for COVID, carpool with someone else who has also tested negative for COVID, and make a day out of going to vote. Go vote on your lunch break at a less-populated polling location. If you feel safe to do so, volunteer at a polling location. If you are not an American citizen, be a ride for someone that could be impacted by these voting changes. If you live in a non-English-speaking household, be sure that older family members are obtaining their election information from more than one source. On the Vote Texas website, early voting sites will be updated a few days before early voting begins. We have 18 DAYS to vote early–let’s do this!!
If you are not a Texan and early voting hasn’t taken place in your state yet, get familiar with your early voting dates and local resources. Every election at every level impacts us all in great and small ways. Exercise your right as an American to vote as many Americans did not obtain the right to vote until 1965…55 years ago…when my parents were children. Do your part.