Voting is a civic duty that bears tremendous importance in every election, big or small. One vote can make all the difference and is an opportunity to participate in a true democracy.
But the right to vote didn’t come easily, especially for people of color, women, and Indigenous people, who had to fight for the right to vote – and the nation is still fighting over this fundamental right, even in 2023.
Casting our ballot is the one, tiny act we can take to change the nation’s laws and make it a more equitable place. Decisions about what matters in our daily lives are made at the local level, such as building our roads and infrastructure, while at the federal level, decisions made by elected officials are tied to the wellbeing of the nation at large.
Our local elected officials have significant power to directly impact lives every day. They can make decisions that hinder students’ ability to thrive in the classroom, or they can make changes for the better, where equity is at the forefront. This is only one reason that it’s vital for voters to get to the polls and cast their ballot in local elections – for the sake of every community across the country.
“Voting is an act of civic love and a bet on our future,” said Carl Zaragoza, Vice President, Elected Leadership for LEE. “Our children cannot yet vote, so it is critically important to keep our future generations in mind when voting. Decisions made today have long-lasting consequences. Educational equity is the ability for every child to have fair access to a quality education in a safe and secure learning environment. It takes a lot of interdependent laws, policies, and leaders to get to educational equity.”
Remember that when voting locally, you’re electing sheriffs, mayors, school board members and others who you believe will best serve your community and its needs. Since voting locally is directly tied to everyday life, Zaragoza said it’s therefore “more important to vote on local matters than federal matters.”
At the state level is when we vote for our governors, or lieutenant governors, for example. And at the federal level, voters decide whom to elect to represent the needs of their community in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
In each election, voters are only given one chance to make their voices heard in a systematic way. No matter the size of the election, voting is one of the most important civic duties we can act upon.
“At the end of the day, it is the group with the most votes that is advancing policy, and it is incumbent upon all of us to participate,” Zaragoza said. “It is imperative to vote to demonstrate our values, power, and ultimately to positively impact our communities.”
Voting should be a simple exercise, a political action that demonstrates a person’s values and signals their interest for the future. But oftentimes, the biggest barrier to vote includes convenience, Zaragoza said. And it’s precisely because of barriers like this that make voting so important.
“Currently, there are fierce debates over the convenience of voting,” he said. “Ultimately, each cycle political players work to advance laws, policies, and regulations that ultimately either make it easier for more people to vote or harder – and they do this as they determine how to more effectively advance their own interests.”
Given this, voting may not seem altogether important. Voters may ask themselves,, “Why, then, should I vote, if my vote only favors those in power?”
LEE encourages all members to remind themselves of the power of voting in masses, and that to vote is to be a true player fighting for an equitable world where all can thrive.
To vote is a fundamental part of democracy, and to not do so could ultimately serve as a huge disservice to you, your family and loved ones, and your community.
“The consequence of not voting is relinquishing our political autonomy to those that do not have our best interests at heart,” Zaragoza said.
*September 19 is National Voter Registration Day. We encourage our members to register now or update their registration while planning your vote.