The power in your vote
by Kyle Lawson
Today we find ourselves in a politically charged society. Even with knowledge regarding the importance of this year’s general election, it is slightly unnerving to know that one in five LGBTQIA+ adults are not registered to vote (Marketwatch).
Now more than ever, voting is an essential personal action that we can take as citizens to impact our community.
We have all heard the following statement from friends, family, or colleagues. “Why should I vote?” “My vote doesn’t matter,” or the best one, “I’m not political.”
To those who voice these statements of complacency, consider that every day local politics are shaping the way that you live your life. If you do not interject by voting, your indifference could have more impacts on you personally than you can perceive in the here and now.
Take, for example, when the state legislature voted on and passed, a discriminatory bill that allows private adoption agencies that receive state funding to discriminate against LGBTQIA+ individuals or couples on religious grounds when placing children.
Subsequently, when state legislatures put funding behind abstinence education for HIV/AIDS prevention vs. science and data-backed comprehensive sex education. These are only two recent incidences in which “non-political” citizens could have been the tipping point between the current state of affairs and a drastically different outcome.
Legislatures are voting and working every year on issues that directly impact our community and our lives, and your vote is needed to help keep that representation in check.
Entire dissertations could be written on the importance of voting, and case after case could be presented to prove this point. Still, for most citizens, the process of voting is one that is either forgotten or shrouded in a lack of knowledge.
Most tag agencies and the county election board will allow you to register to vote or update your voter registration as well as your license and vehicle registration. Additionally, numerous organizations will be hosting drive-thru or drive up voter registration events throughout the fall. For more information on where and how to register to vote, visit www.vote.gov.
Registering to vote, however, is not the final step as often there needs to be a little “pre-game” planning when it comes to voting. In the case of voting by mail, a ballot is mailed directly to you. In the words of Sen. Connie Johnson (D-OK), “You can vote from the comfort of your recliner.”
Do you prefer to vote in person? Identify your polling place, make time to get there, and have a plan if you must wait in line. Calling your local election board and identifying days that you may be able to vote prior to the November 3 election date more conveniently is always a strong statement that helps officials now how important it is for your voice to be heard.
Once you have registered to vote and made a commitment and a clear plan to vote, what is next? Well, remember that one in five number. That one in five could be one of your friends, so use your voice, and demonstrate your agency! Tell your friends you are registered to vote and that you have a plan to vote so that they, too, can have the same power for change that you have just obtained. Ask them if they need help registering and/or if they need help making their plan to get to the polls.
If you want to do more, you can download the Votewithme app on your smartphone. This app tells you which of your friends are registered and who isn’t and allows you to send a scripted or personal text encouraging friends to register and a friendly reminder on election day to vote. By encouraging your friends to vote, you are building community representation at the polls and creating positive change in our community.
Your vote is your power to create representation that stands with you, your voice for change in your community, and, most importantly, is your platform to help create change in your community.
Choosing not to vote or not taking steps to do so has consequences, and we have all seen what a lack of voter engagement creates. In the case of our current leadership, clear evidence shows that we have elected a governing body that does not adequately represent us or our best interests.
Your vote matters! It is crucial, it is powerful, and most importantly, our community depends on your vote. See you at the polls.
Copyright The Gayly. 8/11/2020 @ 11:54 a.m. CST.
(Below: Kyle Lawson is an advocate for queer and other marginalized communities. Photo provided.)