This is a special guest post by student Lisa Cardenes who I am lucky to call my virtual intern for this semester! Below are her words and thoughts on why it is important to make your voice heard by voting in this year’s presidential elections.
Elections are approaching… This world pandemic has really opened my eyes to everything that’s been happening and the reality of the country we live in. As we all probably know the next elections are approaching this November, 2020.
I thought this would be the perfect time to talk to you about the importance of making our voices heard and voting in these upcoming elections. The decisions that we make now will have a huge impact in our country for the next four years. The result could affect your healthcare, your wages, the way a country handles a pandemic. Many people might think that just one vote won’t make the difference but sincerely, every vote matters.
In an article written by National Geographic, it was mentioned how back in the year 2000, Al Gore lost the elections to George W. Bush. He won the elections because he won the state of Florida by 0.009 percent, which equals 537 votes. In 2018, “the Democratic primary for Baltimore County executive in July, was decided by just 17 votes”, according to NPR news. In 2016, “a Vermont state House seat was determined by one vote out of 2,000”, said NPR news. Back in 2008, “the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Al Franken defeated Republican Norm Coleman by just 312 votes out of almost 2.9 million votes cast”, stated NPR news.
I could keep going on and on about all the events in United States history that have been hugely impacted by just a small difference of votes.
These situations demonstrate the perfect example on why each single vote matters. Take a moment and think about the type of country you want your family, kids, and future generations to live in.
The decisions we make now will affect the way our country and our world runs in the future. It is also important that before we go out and vote, we educate ourselves and do some research on each candidate running for president.
Me being a young college student living in America, education plays a huge part in who I chose to vote for. I need to see what each of their plans are to help college students, especially with the rising amount of debts and how expensive colleges are. I believe in the power of education and I strongly feel that everyone should have the right to go to college and it should be more affordable or free to do so.
I know of so many students who haven’t been able to finish college because they can’t keep paying for their tuition. This is one of the many factors that makes me passionate about voting. To all the young people living in America, this is the time to make your voices heard, we truly are the future of tomorrow. We need to stand up and fight for the changes we want to see in this country.
You can’t expect for things to change, without doing anything about it. People complain about racism, gender equality, low wages, loss of jobs, high education rates, high health insurance rates and a million of issues happening around our country but yet statistics show that thousands of people don’t vote. Exercising your right to vote is the starter to make a change, to better our country and to see these changes that you want to happen.
Yes, voting can be stressful but I’m here to help you through the process. First thing you need to know is if you qualify to vote:
The qualifications you need to vote:
- You have to be at least 18 years old on or before the day of elections
- You must be a citizen in the United States
- You must also meet your states requirements (if you want to check what those requirements are, the website below will provide you all the requirements for each state) https://www.vote.org/voter-registration-rules/
If you don’t meet the qualifications to vote, it doesn’t mean, there’s nothing you can do to help. Talk to your friends, families, and everyone you know and express to them the importance of voting, motivate them to vote. You can also volunteer at your local office for the party you want to vote for and advocate for them, see what you can do to help spread the voice.
Don’t remain quiet! You can also use your social media platforms to speak up about voting and get people to vote.
As corny as this may sound “Be the change you want to see in the world!”
Register To Vote!
- If you are not sure if you are registered to vote or not, you can use the website below. It will ask you to input your information and let you know if you are registered or not. https://www.voterparticipation.org/check-registration-status/?campaign=CK-VPC-OVR-GG-Z04-RAEZIP-PLSVOTE-BO-18p-460887347264-131521017151-%2Bvote-b-g-m-&source=CK-VPC-OVR-GG-Z04-RAEZIP-PLSVOTE-BO-18p-460887347264-131521017151-%2Bvote-b-g-m-
- If you happen to not be registered, by going on the website below, once you put in the state that you live in, it will direct you to your state’s website to register to vote. https://vote.gov/
- Make sure that you check the dates! This is vital to know! You need to make sure that you are registered to vote before the deadline required by your state, which could even be a whole month before election day. Click on the link below to check out you state deadlines for the elections https://www.usvotefoundation.org/vote/state-elections/state-election-dates-deadlines.htm
- Tip for college students: Every college student has the option to use their college address or home address, to vote.
The coronavirus has also caused issues with the elections. People are worried and scared about going to their local voting place to vote, with fear of being surrounded by so many people and risking themselves to contract the virus. However, there’s no need to worry because thankfully they have made the decision to allow mail in ballots for everyone that requests it.
How to request mail in ballots:
- In order to request mail in ballots you need to filled out an application, by clicking on the website below you will be able to look up your state, and it will provide you directions on you can vote my mail following your states guidelines https://www.voterparticipation.org/my-voter-info/#
- You can either fill out the request online or you can print it out and send it back to your states local office (the address will be provided on the website, depending on what county you live in)
- The website will also provide information on the deadlines to request mail in ballots depending in the state that you reside in
How to return mail in ballots:
- Mail in ballots can be mailed back (address provided on the form)
- If you would prefer, there’s also the ability to return the mail ballots in person at your county office (address provided on the form)
- Make sure that you read the instructions carefully and do everything as directed (this will prevent any delays and your vote from not getting counted) Example: As McReynolds says “if it says fill in the oval, fill in the oval”, Don’t use a check mark, a circle, or a square….
- Your signature needs to be nice and clear and written on the outside part of the envelope, NOT ON THE ACTUAL BALLOT
Trust me, this might sound like “too much” to focus on but it’ll be worth it, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
If you go through this process you want to make sure that it’s getting done right and that your vote will get COUNTED! That’s the whole point of going through this or is it not ?
For the people that are worried about mail in ballots and are scared that their votes are going to get lost or not get counted, you can vote in person. Each local office and poll locations where the voting will be held are taking extreme precautions to make sure safety and distancing guidelines are set in place.
However, I just want to assure you that there’s no need to worry about the mail in ballots. If you want to make sure that your vote gets received, you can easily track it online (instructions below). You will also be notified once your vote has been received and if there’s any issues they will give you a call. Whether you decide to vote by mail or person, what matters is that your vote gets counted!
How to Track Mail In Ballots:
- Go to https://www.voterparticipation.org, and enter your state of residency
- Scroll down and until you see this “DO VOTERS HAVE THE ABILITY TO TRACK THE STATUS OF THEIR BALLOT? Yes, through your state’s online system.”
- Then click on the words highlighted in blue that say “state’s online system”
- Once you click here, it will direct you to your state’s website and ask you to put in your personal information, and it will be able to track and show you the status of your mail in ballots.
How to vote in person:
- To vote in person, you need to find your local election office, to do so I’ve attached a link below, after you chose the state and region that you live in, it will provide you all the information you need about your local election office and more https://www.usvotefoundation.org/vote/eoddomestic.htm
- You need to check if your state requires for you to take an ID and what types of IDs are acceptable, the link below provides you all the information from each state regarding IDs https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-id.aspx#Laws%20in%20Effect
***The New York Times has this helpful article to help you vote, state by state.