Why Voting Matters Part II

This is an election year, a mid-term election year. This means that in November, people across the country will be voting not only in local elections, but also in gubernatorial and congressional races as well. There are some things we can do now to ensure that we as a people do not have avoidable drama at the poles on 7 November 2006.

The first thing we need to do is confirm that those of us that are old enough to vote are registered to do so. A good place to start is by visiting publius.org. Enter your name here, and if notating comes up, then you can click here to locate your local clerk, who you need to contact in order to register to vote.

Why are we talking about registering to vote? We’re talking about this because we need to get back to the basics and ensure that our fundamentals are solid. In my opinion, voting is one of the most important civic actions we can do. I tend to think that people agree with me that it’s important, since those in power work very hard to strip the right to vote away from people every day and night.

Here’s a secret: it is easier to take something away from an ignorant person than it is to take that same thing away from one who is informed/armed/prepared. Applying this concept to voting, it is much more difficult to take voting rights away from a person who never voted, stopped voting, or doesn’t value voting than it is to strip that right from one who understands its significance. We’ve talked about why voting matters before, and this point cannot be repeated enough.

Today, we take a slightly different approach to trying to quantify why voting matters, more specifically, why it’s important for everybody everywhere to vote. The Washington Post yesterday had a story that spoke to the effects of voter distribution in national elections.

This is important because it makes plain the fact there is power in collective action. One person doing one thing alone may or may not result in wide-reaching change. However, many people acting together with united purpose and determination have a better chance of effecting changes that impact society as a whole. We talked about working together just recently, and we can’t stress enough how important that is. One person may feel that their vote “doesn’t matter,” and therefore not vote. That, in isolation, will not cause the death of humanity. However, if that attitude were to catch on more broadly, which it has in large part, then you get people who are left with a government that they did not vote for and by definition does not represent them. Most people do not want that outcome, but instead of addressing the apathy at its source, we only react to it after the problem is obvious. If we concentrate on the basics, on helping people understand why they should care, maybe we wouldn’t have a representative democracy that did not represent so many people.

For those of you who vote, can you tell us why?
For those of you who do not vote, can you tell us why not?

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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora and am a National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I currently live in Washington, DC with my beautiful wife Ellen. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. Today I work at the crossroads of traditional political organizing and online activism. I speak before diverse audiences on empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation though emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet.

2 responses to “Why Voting Matters Part II”

  1. Brandon Q. says :

    Great post G,

    The reason why I vote is because I don’t think you can complain about the system unless you vote. Also, as citizens of this country, our government representatives are doing things that I indirectly contribute to. You can’t put my name on something and not let me have a say.

  2. Cecilea says :

    Michael Baisden read a letter on his show that Barack Obama sent concerning the Jena 6. You can go to his web page and enter the blog section and find it there. Mr. Obama did not give the usual political rhetoric. To the contrary, he was very specific in calling this case a farce and promised that he would be monitoring this case very closely and calling for the “powers” that be to make a chnage or be prepared for a fight from the black community. As far as I have heard, no ohter Presidential candidate, including our present incumbent, has commented one way or the other. If you have been torn about who to vote for, Mr. Obama’s stance on this situation should cause you to at least consider hearing where he stands on other issues. I implore you to go to Michael Baisden’s web site and read the letter for yourselves.

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