Good Neighbors Vote

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Editor’s Note: This is a version of a post I did in October. California residents, if you still need information on voting, go to the Secretary of State website information page. 

I spend a lot of time at Good Neighbor Stories working to inspire people to be better neighbors, not just in the literal sense of proximity on our own blocks, but in the global sense of how our actions ripple out through our communities and the rest of the world. What we do—or don’t do—has very real impact, even if we don’t perceive it. And while I haven’t said it explicitly, I do imply in my writings that being a good neighbor equals being a good citizen.

In this age of  up to half or more of the eligible voters not exercising the right to vote, this may seem like a bold, or even naive, claim: good neighbors/citizens vote. It is a right, but it’s also a responsibility. And with that responsibility comes some preparation so that the vote you make is an informed one.

Here are several basic reminders of why it’s important to vote:

  • A democracy works best when everyone participates. We are electing people to represent us at all levels of government; those representatives will make very real decisions which will impact our everyday lives. If we don’t participate, at best we are taking the risk that those who do not represent our views or needs will be elected; at worst we are opening the door to those who want to manipulate or dominate the process to the benefit of the few.
  • Your right to vote was hard won. As a nation we’ve fought hard for a representative government and the right to vote; our troops throughout history have fought and died to protect that right. In addition, there are forefathers and foremothers who fought for women and minorities to be able to vote, a fact that should not be taken for granted.
  • Your vote does matter. My family would attest to me being a bit of a broken record whenever I hear someone say, “My vote doesn’t matter.” My response is always, “If everyone thought that way what do you think would happen?” My background is in political science and journalism. I’ve studied or reported on local elections where just a few votes did matter. I’ve witnessed candidates or measures fail by numbers small enough that might have been overcome by better campaign organization or get-out-the-vote efforts. And when it comes to national elections, just because you don’t live in a swing state, or you have a viewpoint that is to the opposite of most of the voters in your region, does not mean you should opt out. Numerous state and local candidates, as well as initiatives, are dependent on your participation.
  • Your vote, your voice. Voting is an important way to give voice to your opinions about issues that impact your life, and the life of your community/community of interest. As immigration, birth rates, and generational transitions continue, the electorate’s views on issues will change. Tipping points are real, and at some point elected representatives will be influenced enough to shift previously held positions.
  • If you don’t vote, “Big Money” wins. There are powerful monied interests counting on large numbers of voters staying home. They pour money into elections to influence a motivated few to vote in a way that benefits their own interests, not the overall populace.

Do you agree? Why or why not is it important to vote? Tell me in the comments section!

Comments

  1. Having served in a country run by a pretty tough dictatorship (that was later overthrown through the ballot box) and having spent time in countries where people moved heaven and earth and risked their very lives in order to vote, I am always in awe of how lucky we are in the United States. I did a bit of phone banking last night and one of the people I reached told me she was voting for the candidate that I opposed and I enthusiastically thanked her, encouraged her to make sure she did vote today, and made sure she knew where her polling place was. Despite the literally billions of dollars poured into this election, we the people DO have the final say, and that’s not the case everywhere in the world.