Every Vote in Every Election Counts

Listen to the Story

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk to a group of freshmen at Capital University about elections, voting and how non-profit organizations advocate on issues. One student raised his/her hand and said that I made being an advocate sound like it was all peaches and cream. I had to admit to the class that when you spend your life fighting for a decent quality of life for the poor, you have more defeats than victories.

I told the students that you have to be passionate and willing to keeping pushing forward to make change happen. And just because you don’t win every fight, it does not mean that the fight is not worth the effort. At times, it seems that some our elected officials would prefer that we pay more attention to voting for the next American idol than what’s happening at the Statehouse or in Congress.

With all the everyday stresses in our own lives, sometimes it’s hard to focus on politics. But with the critical issues facing our country, from the war in Iraq to the home mortgage crisis, what’s happening on the political front does have an effect on our everyday lives.

This is why it’s more important than ever for you to cast your vote today. I know you’ve heard the sad statistics about the shrinking number of Americans who are voting each election. I’ve had fights with members of my own family about the importance of voting. Some think voting doesn’t matter. . .that the politicians are in the pockets of the special interests.

But I believe that every vote cast today is important in shaping the future direction of our city and your neighborhood. Your decisions will influence funding for school levies and social services.

And although it’s important for you to cast your vote, it’s just as important that you are an educated voter. With the onslaught of political ads that pronounce that candidate A will be tougher on crime than candidate B, it all becomes white noise. But there are non-partisan voter education organizations, such as the League of Women Voters, that not only produce voter guides, but also host candidate forums so you can learn more about the people running for office. You can also get non-partisan information about the candidates and issues on the internet.

Yes, it takes time to get educated. But being a more informed voter will help you to pull the lever, or now push the button, for the person who best represents your views.

One last thing-don’t forget to take your ID with you to the polls. Acceptable forms of ID include your driver’s license, state ID card, military ID, or anything with your current home address, such as a bank statement, paycheck or government check stub or utility bill.

Show your passion for our democracy and cast your vote today. And even if your candidate or issue is defeated, don’t give up. Just because you don’t win every fight, it doesn’t mean that the fight is not worth the effort—or your vote.