Those of you who follow politics in the United States know that women’s rights (along with minority and LGBTQ rights) are currently under siege; particularly after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. This decision abolished federal protections for reproductive rights, returning the issue to each individual State.
In response, the state of Kansas addressed this issue in their primary election earlier this month; and there was a record voter turnout, where many voters voted only on the abortion issue. Thankfully, for women, the choice to keep the State’s constitution in tact (and preserve abortion rights) won by a landslide vote… but I can’t help but wonder: Where were these voters before we got to this point?
Does My Vote Really Count?
I’ll be honest, I fall into the “my vote doesn’t honestly count” side of the answer to this particular question (especially in Presidential Elections, which are determined not by the popular vote but by the Electoral College); but my husband believes that every vote counts, and as such, I have voted in nearly every election since marrying the man.
Mitch taught me how to research the candidates (and their voting records) and the issues; and in doing so, I found that it takes far less time to educate oneself about these things than I previously imagined it would.
For instance, in the most recent Arizona Primary (2022), it took me ninety minutes to do the legwork required to make informed decisions about our representatives at the state and federal levels.
I choose not to pay attention to slanderous campaign ads; nor do I subscribe to popular opinion about the candidates. Why? Because once you start paying attention to how our representatives actually vote (which can be found in the public records), you’ll find that many of them do not keep their campaign promises.
So… is voting in a democracy a frustrating endeavor that often leaves one feeling as if their voice goes unheard? Absolutely. (i.e. My choices won’t always win in the end.) But if we don’t participate in the democratic process, then our voices most certainly go unheard.
In the 2020 Arizona Primary, only 36.44% of registered voters cast a ballot. (This is the most recent voter turnout reported by the Secretary of State’s Office.) That means 63.56% of the (registered) voices in Arizona chose not to speak on their own behalf.
63.56% more ballots cast most definitely would have made a difference; and it would only have required — at most — two hours of the voter’s time (to research the candidates, travel to their polling place, and cast a ballot).
In my opinion, that’s not a lot to ask of us as citizens of this nation.
Pay Attention BEFORE It Goes Up In Smoke
It’s important to remember that many, many smaller decisions happened before the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade.
Most notably? The Senate blocked President Obama’s Supreme Court appointments, and then approved those of President Trump.
Therefore, voting for your House and Senate representatives is even more important than voting in the Presidential Election. Why? Because the President can’t get shit done without the approval of the Senate, and the Senate depends on approval from the House of Congress.
It’s also incredibly important to vote for State representation within the State itself. And just in case you haven’t been paying attention up to this point, your State’s government now controls access and/or denial to reproductive rights. (And not only reproductive rights.)
Education is also currently under siege. The conservative right has waged a war against science education and critical thinking; and if you don’t vote for the Superintendent of Public Instruction in your state, then you’re blatantly ignoring the only opportunity you have to guide what kind of education your children will receive. (And even if you don’t have kids, making sure that the next generation is educated is vital to our survival as a democracy.)
The bottom line is that we need to be voting before we lose our rights.
It’s all well and good that women are turning out in record numbers at the polls; but if they had bothered to do so before now, we may not have ended up at this point.
Make YOUR Voice Heard
Humans — in and outside of the polls — like to be heard. We are social animals that thrive in a pack. Sure, each person’s pack may be different from another’s; but we have more in common than we don’t.
To cast a vote isn’t only a right of the pack; it’s a privilege. It ensures our survival against other packs, all competing for the same rights and resources; and if we can’t be bothered to choose our pack leaders, how can we expect to thrive as members of said pack?
We have the power to change the course of history, and to shape our circumstances… but only if we show up at the polls and use what little influence we have.
Please, exercise your right to vote. I don’t care if you disagree with me at the polls. I only care that you show up and harness the power of your own voice.