A few days ago, I heard my wife helping our son fill out his absentee ballot. It was his first time to vote.
I could hear the excitement in his voice as they spoke to each other, and it made me think of my first voting experience.
Instead of being excited, though, I remember not wanting to stand in the long lines to vote. Thankfully, a close family friend shared details with me of his experience protesting and demonstrating throughout the South in the ’60s, trying to protect black people’s right to vote. He explained that he and many others were jailed and beaten, and some had even died during the protest.
Hearing his stories led me to understand the sacrifices that had been made so I would be able to vote — and that my son could feel the thrill of voting for the first time.
Listening to my wife help my son, I also couldn’t help but appreciate the sacrifices so many women have made, too—sacrifices that have allowed my wife to be able to vote and one day soon, my daughter. It feels especially powerful as this year we mark the centennial anniversary of women having the right to vote in America.
And yet, we still need to remain vigilant and protective of our right to vote.
You wouldn’t think so, as we’re all being inundated with phone calls, emails, and commercials from candidates making their case for our votes in the final stretch of this election. But at the same time, there’s still voter suppression in our midst.
Amazingly, over 50 years since the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, many different parts of the country are still seeing acts or behavior designed to keep or dissuade people from voting.
Luckily, there is also a concerted effort to provide resources for people to vote, and I’m encouraged by those efforts.
I am thankful to the many companies and organizations opening up facilities as voting polls, and by the many people who are stepping up to replace the elderly poll workers who usually volunteer at polling places but can’t this year due to the pandemic.
The best thing we can do to fight against voter suppression and to honor the sacrifices made by so many people who fought for our right to vote is to actually get out there and do it. To VOTE.
It’s easy to take for granted our right to vote, especially with the ways technology and mail-in ballots have made voting easier. And it’s also easy to assume that because of the sheer number of people in our country, one individual vote doesn’t really matter that much. But despite these things, there’s never been a more important election to make sure our voices are heard.
With so many polarizing events happening just in this year alone, along with all the crucial issues that we currently have on the line, this is arguably the most important election of our lifetime. And what you do matters.
Sitting this election out helps no one. I hope that you will make your vote count, make your voice heard, and use the right that so many have worked hard for you to have by voting. I think you’ll be glad you did.
Here are some resources I have used to learn more about voting and volunteering to support voting actions.