Welcome to a very important Weekly Blog which some of you might find boring, but please stick with me. This is also going to very America-centric because I’ll be talking about US Elections, but I think it can be applied to a lot of places all over the world, so before you read the title and click off, just give this a read. It’s going to involve politics, but don’t worry, I’m not going to give you any of my personal opinions other than it’s important for you to vote. Plus I might be teasing some stuff at the end of this Weekly Blog, so you don’t want to miss out on that. Just stick with me and trust me as I lead you down a road where I explain over and over again how important it is that you 1) Register to vote and then 2) go vote on election day. But before we get to that, all the wonderful readers have made September a wonderful, wonderful month and this past week really helped end September on a good note. So many views, likes, and comments that made my day again and again. For starters, last Sunday, I published a Weekly Blog talking about Music on Twitch. If you didn’t read it, I talk about the wonderful musicians and musical talents you can find on Twitch and even give some personal recommendations if you are looking for some awesome music streams to watch on Twitch. On Wednesday, I published a Poem titled Watching From The Field which is about a friendly watcher standing in a field. You might have guessed that I’m talking about a scarecrow just from the title, but I guess you’ll have to read the poem to confirm your assumptions. On Friday I published a Writing Prompt piece titled Roadside Horror which as you may have guessed, contains some horror. It also talks about the worst day in a young woman’s life and how it leads her down a dark, dark path. Just a little teaser for the creepy, horror-filled month of October. Finally, on Saturday, I published the fifth chapter in my Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver Fanfiction titled Pokemon HGSS #5: Battle Against The Swarm. Jonathan has made his way to Azalea Town and rescued the stolen Slowpoke alongside Beatrice. Now he is ready to take on Azalea’s Bug-Type Gym Leader, Buggy. Don’t think just because they’re bugs, that Jonathan is going to have it easy. There’s a tough battle in front of him.
Ok let’s move on to the very important topic of voting. If you’re like me, you grew up in a household where the importance of voting was hammered into your head. Ever since the age of 15 or 16, maybe younger, I was told how important it was to go out and vote. I watched the news a lot with my parents and we would talk about how important it is to engage with the world. Things like staying informed on issues, balancing biases, reading multiple sources, and voting were all important things I was taught even before I was voting age. That’s why the subject of voting is such an important thing to me. Honestly when I see that only 58% of eligible voters voted in the 2016 Presidential Election (PBS Newshour), it makes me sad. We’re talking about one of the most important, most politicized elections of my lifetime and more than 40% of people who could have gone to the polls and voted, didn’t. These numbers might not be exactly correct, but it’s important that this doesn’t even consider people who couldn’t vote even if they wanted to. People younger than 18, non-citizens living in the US, and felons were all left out as 40% of the population that could have voted decided not to. And I mean, I kind of get it. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were decisive in their own way. Many people who would be voting in their first Presidential Election were turned off by both candidates and decided not to vote. It sucks. I know.
But now it’s two years later. A lot has changed between then and now. In the US, we are coming upon what is called a Midterm Election which is called that because it happens in the middle of a Presidential Term; hence, Mid Term. It’s an election where people will vote for House Members and possibly members of the US Senate (depending on what state you live in) as well as State-wide positions like Governor and Lt. Governor and your state’s House and Senate. There are possibly local things on the ballots as well such as school levies and other local ordinances. That’s a lot of things, so you would think it would bring in a ton of people to vote. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. In the last Midterm Election which happened in 2014 was the lowest it had been in 70 years with just 36.4% of the eligible voting population actually voting (PBS Newshour). That’s almost 2/3 of eligible voters staying home and not casting their ballots. Governor’s of states were voted in with over 60% of people having no input on it. That’s bad, but it only gets worse. On off-off years or odd years like 2017 or 2015 local elections and local ballot issues dominate the ballot which brings in even less voters. These local elections are maybe the most prevalent when it comes to your everyday life, but without the national coverage and the huge spotlights, fewer and fewer people turnout to them.
So that’s voting by the numbers, but maybe that just bore you. Who cares if some percentage of people did or didn’t vote. That’s just numbers. That’s math. Why should you care. Well let’s talk about your role in all of this. Does your one vote really matter that much? One one hand, maybe not. In the 2016 Election more than 120 million people voted for the two major party candidates with more than 6 million people voting for a third-party or independent candidate (270 to win) Now that sounds like a lot of people and you’re just one person. A drop in the ocean. But I would argue that every drop counts. Each one of those millions of people is an individual that made a choice. They registered to vote (minus the people in North Dakota who don’t have voter registration), they went to the polls, and they voted. They cast their ballot and voted for the candidate they most believe in…or against the candidate they hated. Either way, they voted. They became one of the droplets in the ocean that made their voice heard while others decided to make excuses and not vote.
Look I’m not here to say that the US is a perfect country or that our voting process is perfect. I’m just saying that people in the US take voting for granted and I’m pretty sure it is similar all over the world. There are countries that have been around in one form or another for thousands of years more than the US has been a country that still don’t have a legitimate Democracy. We do. Again, it is has its flaws and it isn’t perfect, but we are able to fix that from the inside. We can use the system to fix the system. That’s something that I believe 100%.
So what can you do to make sure your voice is heard in the upcoming 2018 election? Well first you need to make sure you register to vote. Voting registration can be different for every state and I don’t know all the rules, but I do know you can find out the specific information you need to know for your state by going to https://vote.gov/. All you have to do is put in your state and it will take to straight to the place where you need to go to register. What if you’re already registered? Well make sure you double check that you are still registered. If you have moved recently, gotten married, changed or last name, or changed your legal status in anyway, you need to make sure your voter registration is updated. Even if you just moved across the hall in your apartment building, you need to update it. Any discrepancy in your voting information can get your ballot thrown out. Also if you have not voted in a while but registered a long time ago, you need to double check to make sure you are still registered. Some states have purged voter rolls and may of thrown your voter registration out. Just take a couple of minutes and check you are still registered.
After you are registered, the next step is for you to be informed. There are a lot of candidates running and local ballot issues you will be able to vote on and it helps to know who you are voting for and what you are voting for before you get to the ballot box on election day. Many states have sample ballots you can look at before election day. I’m not 100% sure on all the state’s laws when it comes to sample ballots, but a quick Google Search should allow you to find sample ballots online or bring you to a place where you can request a sample ballot. Take a look at these sample ballots and spend a few minutes looking up candidates and ballot initiatives. Even spending five minutes looking over the ballot will make you more informed so you’re not just voting blindly or off of the R’s and D’s next to candidates names. Remember, just because you might identify with a certain political party, doesn’t mean that candidate is right for you. Maybe you actually disagree with them on major issues or maybe the other candidate is actually closer to you politically than the candidate that you would traditionally agree with. A quick Google search will go a long way. A non-partisan website like Ballotpedia will help you find information as well as sample ballots.
Last thing you need to do after doing research is actually vote. You’ve made it to the finish line, so you might as well cross it in style. This can be done through Absentee Voting, Early Voting, or Voting on Election Day. Again, a lot of rules surrounding voting are different from state to state, so you’ll have to look up the specifics, but most states allow some kind of Absentee Voting or Early, In Person Voting as well as voting on Election Day. Maybe you know you’ll be busy on Election Day because of work or maybe you’ll be out of town on Election Day. If that is the case you can request to vote Absentee. If you do this, you have to mail in a request and they will send you back a ballot. You fill it out with all the proper information and you mail it back to them. This is great if you’re a college student and you go to school somewhere that is not your hometown. You can just sit down in front of your computer, research all the candidates and fill it out as you go along. Just make sure you mail it back in before the deadline. The other option you have is Early Voting. This is where you go vote days before Election Day at the voting machine. Again, maybe you’re busy on Election Day or maybe you just want to get it over with and don’t want to wait in line. Great! Just Google your local Early Voting location and go vote. It’s easy and it takes almost no time at all. Of course, maybe you’ll just wait until Election Day. It’s not a national holiday in the US, but it does feel special when you turn out on Election Day, vote, and get your special “I ♥ Voting” Sticker.
The last thing I’ll say is that I know voting seems like something that you have to do or something that you are forced to do. It can seem like a chore to stay informed and to go out and vote. However, I look at it as a privileged. It’s something that you get to do that many around the world don’t get to be involved in. We take for granted that ever since the US Constitution was ratified, that we have had a peaceful exchange of power every four years from President to President. We were born out of bloodshed and tears and have been divided several times, but at the end of the day, we’re all still Americans trying to do what we think is best for ourselves and the entire nation. That’s pretty special. So please, please, PLEASE get out to vote. I’d never tell you who to vote for, but I will continue to talk about how important it is to vote and how your vote does matter.
Alright I think that was enough of a civics lesson. Thank you to everyone who read through that entire thing and didn’t immediately close out when I started talking about voting. It’s just that it’s a very important topic to me and I felt that I should use this Weekly Blog to talk about it. Thank you again for all the love and support you send my way. I really appreciate it. Now I promised some kind of tease. Now I’m not going to give too much away, but we are coming up on the 300th published piece on the website. I know! I’m so excited! In order to kick off October in style and celebrate this milestone, we’re going to have a very special week. I will give out more details tomorrow in a special Bulletin Board post, but let me just say that you’ll want to come back to the website EVERY SINGLE DAY this week. That’s right. New post every single day this week. You don’t want to miss it. So make sure you Follow the blog here on WordPress as well as follow on Facebook and Twitter so you’ll know when new stuff is coming out. Again, come back tomorrow for a special Bulletin Board post detailing this upcoming week and all the awesome posts leading up to published post 300.
Thank you again and I hope you have a wonderful week!
Header Photo Credit to BardDems.com