Soon, we’ll all have an opportunity to exercise one of the most important freedoms granted us under our constitution – the right to vote. It’s a chance for each and every one of us to take part in our political system, expressing our individual opinions on the issues and leaders that shape our society.
At CHI, we encourage our colleagues and our communities to exercise this important right through our My Voice, My Vote engagement campaign. You have a voice; you have a vote. Make sure your voice is heard by registering, becoming informed, and voting!
Many people will choose not to exercise this important right, and recent numbers on voter turnout are discouraging. In the 2016 election, voter turnout hit a 20-year low for a Presidential election, with under 60% of eligible voters participating. Even worse, in the midterm 2014 elections, voter turnout was under 40%.
This trend is perhaps not surprising. Partisan politics, negative campaign ads and eroding trust in the electoral process work to dampen voter enthusiasm. There are challenges within our system, but none should deter us from participating.
But what’s undeniable is that democracy requires participation. We’re all given the opportunity to shape our democracy with our vote. We all have the power to affect change. Regardless of your take on today’s political environment, your opinions mean little if you don’t vote. Please, don’t give away your power.
If you haven’t already, make sure you’re registered to vote. Doing it ahead of time will ensure you can vote on Election Day. Registration deadlines vary by state, so the sooner you register, the better. To register online, click here.
Thomas Jefferson wrote that a well-informed electorate is a prerequisite to democracy. We need to keep in mind that we are electing those who will make our laws and spend our tax dollars. Your vote can impact so many aspects of your life—your wages, your health, your safety and security. Taking the time to understand where the candidates stand on the issues will ensure your vote best reflects your values.
You can learn about candidates and ballot initiatives through your local news stations and newspapers. Most candidates have a website where you can read in-depth about their backgrounds and positions. Our Candidate Lookup tool on the My Voice, My Vote website can show you the national and state candidates for office based on your zip code, with links to their campaign websites. You can get started here.
Though our government has never been without faults, it was built upon a solid foundation that has endured for well over 200 years. A foundation built upon the power of We the People. Take the time to exercise your power this election day. Encourage others to do so as well.
Get registered, become informed, and get out and vote.
Laura Krausa is the system director of advocacy and Rachel Tanner is the director of public policy at CHI.