November 8th will be my 5th opportunity to vote for the president of the U.S. That means that in my voting life, I’ve only been able to vote during some really jacked up elections with extreme issues and world problems on the line. The first election during which I was old enough to vote was Bush, Jr. vs Gore. There was so much wrong with that election – the candidates, the Nader “throwaway” votes, voting system scandals, etc. This election time, the U.S. is voting on Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or a bunch of other people who have no chance of winning.
How did we get to this place???
We can speculate from a logical standpoint, from a historical standpoint, from a political standpoint, or from a ridiculous standpoint. The truth is, none of that matters. Those are our choices and there’s no going back now. Due to the lack of support behind either candidate for most Americans, I think we are going to have record low voter turnouts this year. That makes me pretty sad.
Women have had the right to vote for less than 100 years in the U.S. The country was established over 200 years ago, but we’ve only been able to vote for less than half of that time. Women outnumber men in this country. A woman is running for president this election term. Most of the women I know (who live in the metroplex) are not voting.
That’s not to say that I think that women should vote for Hillary Clinton just because she’s a woman. I just think that they should vote. Even if you think it’s a throwaway vote, it’s not. Find someone on the ballot whose record supports your values as much as possible and vote for that person. That is the best way to get out of this two system voting party craziness that leaves so many Americans feeling like their votes don’t matter.
More importantly, there are other offices and issues on the ballot that will affect your everyday life directly. Don’t let the presidential election overshadow local elections and propositions that will affect your housing taxes, education policies, local businesses, and even the cleanliness of your drinking water. It’s not too late to learn about all of the other important issues on the ballot and vote. You don’t have to pay money to vote. Voting doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to do jury duty (even though it’s your civic duty and you should be proud to be included in the process no matter how much of a pain in the butt it can be), and you can take notes into the voting booth with you so that you don’t have to remember exactly how you want to vote on every issue or seat. Here are some great resources to help you navigate your local elections and issues on this year’s ballot:
League of Women Voters – Don’t be fooled; this isn’t a women-only resource. After women gained the right to vote, they wanted to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to make informed choices. So, they switched gears from suffrage to voter education. They do a great job of questioning candidates on issues and providing answers on common voter questions. Just go to the site above and enter your address to find info for your area.
Local Newspaper Websites – The Dallas Morning News has a great Voter Guide, and if your values align with that of the paper’s, you can even see which candidates they endorse for each office. If you enjoy more independent magazines and newspapers, look up their websites and they can help you find candidates and issues that align with your values.
Google – Type in Voter Guide 2016 and you can search for early voting guidelines, voting locations, ballot issues, etc. If you’re wondering about a specific race, candidate, or issue, type that into Google and off you go.
Whatever you do, don’t think that your vote doesn’t matter. It does. If everyone who didn’t think her vote mattered actually voted, we could see more options on the ballot and politicians would realize that they are directly accountable to their constituents.
Since I’m in Texas, I’m going to offer a couple of FYIs for my fellow Texans:
- Early Voting is October 11 – November 5.
- Statewide elections are being held for important positions like Railroad Commissioner, State Supreme Court Justices, State Appeals Court Justices (this is where your Making of a Murderer and the Serial podcasts addictions matter!), and House Representative.