About 250 years ago, a bunch of spunky farmers and shop owners decided that they were done with living under British imperial rule. In 1775, those farmers and shop owners fired “the shot heard around the world” and after a few more years of fighting, America won its independence.
Now that’s a story all of us have heard a million times in school, on the 4th of July, and several other times throughout our lives. However, it is worth repeating because it teaches us an important lesson: our basic human rights are important. And one of those rights is the right to have our voice be heard.
After the revolution ended, the founding fathers of our nation got together and over the course of a few years came to eventually draft the Constitution. Within that august document is the right for white men to vote. Once our society eventually came to its senses we finally gave everyone the right to vote. This key part of our republic has been used countless times throughout history to effect change in our nation. Countless men and women have died protecting the right for everyone to vote as well.
Fast forward to modern days. Since 1920 women have been allowed to vote. The percentage of the population that is eligible to vote who actually did vote has hovered around 50 to 60 percent. That is a huge problem! That means that only about half the population takes the time to get out on election day and exercise one of their fundamental rights and responsibilities. A right in which countless thousands have died for over the years. This is just wrong.
For years now, whenever I walk around or scroll through social media, all I’ve heard is people complaining about all factions of government. Now hear me on this: it’s more than okay to give your opinion on what the government is or should be doing, but don’t complain unless you’re willing to do something about it. The easiest thing you can do is get out and vote on election day. Do you like how your Congressman or Senator is representing you in Congress? Great, go vote for them. Do you absolutely despise your Congressman or Senator and want someone else in office? Great, go vote for that other candidate. A lot of people think that one vote can’t make a difference and that’s one reason they stay home on election day, but imagine if everyone who thought that way got out and voted. There would be thousands of new votes which could drastically change the system.
Now I understand that trying to get the poll between 6 A.M. and 6 P.M. can be hard especially for those who work or have kids. Lucky for you, the system has created a solution for you to get your vote in without having to wait in line on election day. Also, most of us college kids here at JU won’t be in our home counties on election day. This solution works for us too. Allow me to introduce you to the absentee ballot.
The way the absentee ballot works is you apply to get the ballot, it gets mailed to you and you mail it back. It’s literally that simple. JU students, you can buy an envelope and a stamp in the campus bookstore for around 50 cents and drop it off in the slot right by the mailroom. Each state has its own policy for how to get an absentee ballot, but lucky for you we live in the age of the internet and a simple google search will tell you what you need to do.
Voting is your civic duty; however, do your best to be an informed voter. Don’t just vote blindly for a party. Vet the candidates and make sure you know who you’re voting for. Almost every single candidate will have a website with some of their core beliefs on it. Look at the issues that are important to you, choose which candidate you prefer, and then go vote. If you don’t like any candidate, write somebody in. Don’t throw away your chance to affect change in your city council, state legislature, or even in Congress.
One of the best ways to have your voice be heard in this country is to vote. There are several other ways too and I’ll probably touch on those at some point in the coming weeks as well, but for now go get your absentee ballot because election day is less than a month away! Get your ballot, get informed, and then go exercise your basic fundamental right to have your voice be heard in this country.