The upcoming election is arguably the most crucial election our generation and generations before us have had the opportunity to witness.
As expressed in both presidential debates this year, some of the major issues at hand in this election include racial inequality, climate change and management of the COVID-19 pandemic — all carrying a massive risk to the lives of Americans.
Voter turnout is expected to increase dramatically during this election, as many people have become more politically educated and active through social media and community advocacy.
Unfortunately, there are still some people who don’t care enough to submit their ballot.
In the last few months, I’ve spoken to multiple people who have expressed their distaste for political discussion and are unsure whether they will be voting in this election.
I’ve heard phrases like, “I don’t like the drama of it” and “I’m just not passionate about politics.”
I hate to break it to you, but choosing not to vote or voting for random candidates as a joke is a gross and selfish example of privilege, as it does nothing to improve the awful situation our country is in. While the topic of politics, especially during the last four years, is oftentimes ugly and can lead to heated conversations, this is in no way a valid reason to abstain from voting.
If you’re debating whether or not to vote or looking at the election solely through the lens of your own personal needs, please take a moment to think about the nation’s several underrepresented groups who need your vote and not just yourself.
Making up nearly one-sixth of eligible voters in the United States, many adults living with disabilities depend on the votes of able-bodied citizens to advocate for them and their struggles.
Ballot locations offer little help to those with physical disabilities, and state laws revoke the voting rights of many adults who are mentally disabled over inaccurate stereotypes regarding cognitive capabilities.
In 30 states, U.S. citizens previously charged with felonies are unable to vote in important elections even after they have completed their prison sentence.
Two states revoke citizens’ voting rights until they have completed their prison sentence and parole and 19 states revoke citizens’ voting rights until they have completed their prison sentence, parole and probation. Nine states even have the ability to revoke citizens’ voting rights for the rest of their lives.
Concerning the stigma around those who have committed felonies and their value to American society, it is important to recognize the fact that we have never been and will never be able to spend a day in these people’s shoes. Their inability to vote depletes them of their opportunity to express their voice and contribute to society.
On any given day of the year, over 500,000 people in the U.S. are homeless, yet election processes do little to offer them accessible means to voting in major elections. Although every state allows voting registration for people without housing, the procedures for them to successfully submit their ballots, such as requirements of a valid mailing address and state-issued ID, are exhausting and cause extremely low voter turnout.
Along with these groups, many immigrants and their children who have made lives for themselves in the U.S. are still unable to express their views through the means of voting, which places an even greater dependence on the votes of abled citizens.
If you don’t feel the need to vote to uphold your own rights, vote to uphold theirs. For those who still don’t think your vote really matters: Look around.
Even if you were able to ignore all of these vulnerable groups depending on you to advocate for them, it’s impossible to invalidate the number of deaths and injustice our nation is experiencing during this election season.
Under the current leadership, over 200,000 people have died from COVID-19, making our nation’s death rate from the virus the highest in the developed world. Abstaining from voting means submitting to and accepting the lack of responsibility and action from the country’s political leaders.
During one of the most paramount election seasons in American history, we have the power to decide what matters most to us and our community and vote accordingly. Privilege is blatantly obvious when people choose not to vote, ultimately depleting our values and opinions.
Engaging in politics shouldn’t be a choice. Whether or not your privilege allows you to ignore politics or act like they don’t matter, voting is a crucial means of protecting human rights and creating a more unified nation.
Don’t undermine your strength as a voter. Your vote may not matter to you, but it matters to someone else.