You Have the Power to Vote: Why Not Use It?

Photo courtesy of seattletimes.com Belatina, latinx
Photo courtesy of seattletimes.com

The country is facing a major challenge that requires everyone to use their voice. Passions are high, but there is still a portion of the population that says, “There is no point in voting!” Voter apathy still exists across America, even while a record-breaking number is heading to the polls.

Sometimes, knowing a piece of interesting history can help encourage a different perspective.

In 1872, fourteen women, along with Susan B. Anthony cast their ballots in New York. The act warranted a trial and conviction for unlawful voting. It came with a $100 fine, which Ms.Anthony refused to pay. 

Women started a movement, lasting years until finally, the U.S.Constitution’s 19th Amendment became effective on August 26, 1920. The milestone guaranteed that a white woman could not be turned away from voting for being a female. This achievement did not resolve the exclusion in the voting process, as minority men and women continued to be shunned from the essential benefits of so-called democracy. 

It took a long time before African-American and Latinos were called to the voting polls in 1965. Native Americans and Chinese women were given their right to vote between 1924-1943. Despite the change, these communities continued to challenge other social barriers discouraging or suppressing their voting rights. 

Given all these facts, it is surprising that so many people still do not vote today because they feel their vote will not make a difference. The electoral college ultimately chooses, so “why bother?” is the sentiment that is frequently expressed. 

My mother and father came to the United States from the Dominican Republic; they became citizens a couple of decades ago. The first time I voted in a presidential election, it was all due to my mother. I showed minimal interest in the process or voting, but she insisted that I go with her to make sure that I cast my ballot. She has always been an outspoken woman, believing that those before us fought hard to lend us a voice. It is every American’s civic responsibility to vote. You have no right to complain if you do nothing. 

Each one of us holds individual power. No matter who you decide to vote for, the important thing is for you to show up and execute it. Americans are showing up to vote, people are feeling strongly on both sides of the issues, but efforts have to take place collectively, as a nation. Change always starts with you; therefore, it is on you to do your part towards that vision.

“If you don’t do everything you can to change things, then they will remain the same.” – John Lewis.