Do you have a hard time making it out to vote? Last year, our school system decided to give the students a holiday on election day. Now, there’s nothing wrong with giving the students a random Tuesday off from school. I’m sure there was some good reason about using schools for polling sites or…well, I can’t think of another good reason. I doubt they purposefully were seeking to add one more challenge to working parents’ schedules. But, alas, I’m not in charge and that’s a good thing.
I noticed an unfortunate consequence of that school holiday as well as other influences, though. A lot of women, and probably men too, found it too challenging to vote that day. Between additional childcare needed because of school being out, the daunting idea of standing in the voting line with four kids, or simply not planning in advance, voting ended up being the task that was erased from the list. I don’t blame them. There are so many things demanding our time and attention, and sometimes that one simple task can become so complicated that we just give up.
I have had these same experiences, too. Last year, we decided to make it a family affair and we did not eat dinner until it was past our girls’ bedtime. I’ve stood in the voting line with a screaming two year old. I’ve gone to the wrong polling site and waited in line for an hour because our new address was in a city that had only ONE neighborhood (ours!) in the OTHER county that we should have been voting in. Actually making it out to vote can be flat out HARD.
Today’s off-year election will only be held in certain counties in certain states so many of you will not be voting today. However, this next year, we vote for our next President and other leadership in our country, and there may be crucial referendums in your city, county or state as well. Hopefully, most of you will vote in these elections because they are the big, super-important, federal level elections. However, and I by no means mean this as an accusation, do you make it a priority to vote for the smaller elections, too? Please understand that I am FOR you, not against you. I understand how hard it can be. Can we have a little chat about something I am passionate about, though?
My grandmother was born in 1922 and is still living today. And not just living, she’s line dancing with the best of them at 93 years old! Just two short years prior to her birth, in 1920, women were granted the right to vote in this country. That was just 105 years ago! Many of you have antique furnishings in your home today that are older than that. If you spent any amount of time studying history, you know at least a few minor details about the Women’s Suffrage movement. Did you know that it took several DECADES of pursuing the right to vote before it was ever granted? DECADES!!! Women (and a few brave men) spent thousands of hours working hard for a freedom that most of us rarely give a second thought to. They lost sleep over it. They burned with anger and passion over it. They experienced injustice over it. They were arrested over it. We would do ourselves a favor to remember what others have done on our behalf.
Will You Make Your Vote Count?
I have found that some people truly commit to voting. I’ve also found that some vote, “if it works out, or if it’s convenient.” When work gives you an extra long lunch break or when kids are at school, we more readily make it happen. But it is also amazing to me how many people commit to complaining about the people in office every day for the next few years. In my opinion, if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain.
I also have found that many times women do not feel informed or believe they are too inadequate to make a judgement call and place a vote. They defer to their friends, to their coworkers, to their husband, or father. Rather than potentially voting for the ‘wrong’ person, they simply choose not to get involved. I am not a very politically minded person (the politics of it all drive me crazy!), but I am very passionate about getting out and voting! Making my voice heard. Making my vote count. Making my opinion known. Making sure I exercise my RIGHT to vote that was FOUGHT for by others for DECADES! If I don’t understand what we are voting on or who we are voting for, it’s up to ME to do a little research to figure it out. Please, by all means, don’t just listen to the talking heads on television. They are selling the drama and ratings and are not truly clueing you in on the facts needed to make an informed decision.
Here Are 5 steps To Make Your Vote Count:
- Decide to Make Voting a Priority – Seriously. This one simple action of changing your view of voting as a luxury to a necessity will drastically change the effort you put towards it.
- Register to Vote – If you have moved or are recently turned 18 or have a name change, be sure you registration is up to date. There is usually a cut off date before a major election, so be sure to get this done early.
- Figure Out Where To Vote – For bigger elections, there will be early voting location sites or you can vote on election day at your actual polling location. Either way is fine. Just double check your address so you go to the correct place.
- Do Some Research on What or Who You Are Voting For – I wish there was a centralized site for ALL elections but I have not found one yet. You can search through your state’s Secretary of State site and see if you can find the local info. There should be a view of the ballot and you can google any names or referendums. Keep in mind that you need to be thinking of the consequences of that vote. A lot of times, it comes down to who ends up having the power. If you like an idea of something, but it requires you to give up your rights, be careful that you think those things through first.
- Make A Plan To Set Your Voting Day Up For Success – This does not happen by accident. Plan to vote early if it’s a more convenient location, or get up early, or schedule childcare if needed. Have a family picnic in the voting line. Go get ice cream after your kids wait with you and talk about the importance of voting. Do something to make it happen.
Don’t believe the lie that your vote doesn’t count. I actually believe that it counts now more than ever. The United States of America is a democracy: By the people, for the people. Make sure it stays that way by getting out to vote and make your vote count!
Join The Conversation: Do you make it a priority to vote? What are some obstacles that get in your way? What ways have you found to ‘make it happen?’ You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Additional ‘Make Your Vote Count’ Resources:
Tennessee Secretary of State (many states have a similar url: http://www.sos.tn.gov/ – put your state code in place of the TN)