Updated: Jun 22, 2020
In the world of COVID-19, quarantine, increased productivity while WFH, life's typical struggles, and BLM protests everywhere, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is voting. But I’m here to share why it should move higher in your list of priorities.
My journey with voting started long before I could actually vote. Throughout high school I organized voter registration drives to help get my peers prepared for when we turned 18. Even then I understood that this voting thing was important and we needed more people doing it. Growing up in the era of Obama shaped the way I saw government. I saw it as something we (Black people) do. I saw it as something I could do, and actually do well. In my household elections weren’t missed, voting was always instilled as a civic duty. A duty we all are called to fulfill. As I’ve grown older I realized that voting is a duty but we should also see it as a tool. A necessary tool in the toolbox of change. Participating in elections is a piece towards progress, but a very important piece.
But let's be honest. We’ve all heard the classics “people died for your right to vote” or my favorite “Your vote is your voice.” I’ll try to give a simple, straightforward, no BS, no fluff, no extra answer about why voting is important. Your vote is how you voice your opinion. Whether it’s a vote for something/someone, or you simply voting for President and nothing else (I beg that you don’t, please vote for your local candidates) elections are opportunities to inform our government about the type of leadership we want. Elections are opportunities to inform our government about the types of policies we approve of. Elections are opportunities for us to reject politicians we feel aren’t working in our interest. Voting allows you to participate actively within our system.
Like with anything in life it’s about the numbers. The more you vote the more valuable of a voter you are (no seriously). Any campaign nowadays is running on voter data from your state board of elections or secretary of state office that shows them where the coveted Super Voter is. Super Voters are people who don’t miss an election. They vote early, they vote often, and they vote in primaries. But on average Super Voters aren’t much younger than 45-50. As a former candidate I know firsthand the cost of running for office. It’s expensive trying to get your message out there and for many candidates they can’t afford to go after younger voters who aren’t guaranteed to head to the polls. Super Voters on the other hand have proven time and time again they’ll be at the polls and are worth the investment. If you’re under 40 ask yourself have you ever received a phone call or mailer from a candidate? At most you’ve probably got a text from Bernie Sanders. This is purely because elections are about numbers. The amount of money you have to spend on voter outreach, get out the vote (GOTV) efforts, mailers, staff, materials is all focused on how to maximize the number of people who vote and the number of people who vote for their candidate or cause. At the bottom of most campaign budgets is outreach to the youth vote.
But COVID-19 is changing things. The world as we know it is drastically being altered. The amount of Black lives taken by this disease have been astronomical. We are seeing our systems fail. The systemic effects of racism are permeating through at every level of government. The United States response to COVID-19 is directly related to who this country elected President in 2016.
Here we are in 2020 and it's our turn to vote again. Even if there are less than inspiring candidates on the ballot (both with allegations of sexual assault), our values and issues that impact our communities are. We have to use every tool we have if we truly want to see liberation within our communities. We simply don’t have the luxury to protest voting. We do not have the luxury to vote third party. We have to use our tool in the best possible way. Vote because our lives depend on it.