Get Out and Vote!

Ok folks, it’s that time of year again. Time for my little voting lecture that, although will most likely sway no one, will allow me to feel that I’ve done my civic duty as a citizen of this great country that I love so dearly. I’m going to try to keep this as non-partisan as possible (although many of you already know which side of the aisle I fall on) to avoid offending anyone.

A Few (okay, 12) Reasons You Should Vote:

1. Many, many people have dedicated or, in many cases, given their lives so that you could have the right to vote. Especially all us folks out there who aren’t male. Or white. I live about 30 miles from Seneca Falls, NY, where Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the National Woman Suffrage Association, and where they worked with Frederick Douglass on anti-slavery legislation and winning the vote for black citizens. When Susie B was arrested and tried for voting in the 1872 Presidential election, the trial was held in Canandaigua, NY which is about 15 minutes from my house. So this kind of hits home for me in a literal and not-so-literal kind of way.

2. You do have a voice! I know in a state like New York, where I live, the state pretty much votes the same way every presidential election. So I know it may feel like your vote doesn’t count. But this is wrong on so many levels! Imagine what would happen if everyone said that, and only a handful of people ended up voting. Also, don’t underestimate the power of voting in local elections! In this case you will be voting for people who have a direct impact on your community and shape the legislation that will impact you on a daily basis – people you may run into at the grocery store and therefore can actually have a one-on-one conversation with. 

3. In many countries around the world, the right to vote is something people yearn for. We often take for granted that we can express our political opinion in this way. Imagine not being able to openly support a candidate, or openly disapprove of one. Since this has always been (rather, at least as long as anyone alive today has been around) one of our rights, it’s easy for us to overlook what it really means to not have such liberties. I found this picture online, which is funny and obviously an exaggeration, but displays my point perfectly:

4. You’ll get a cool sticker that says “I Voted Today!”  And who doesn’t like stickers?! Seriously.

5. The next president will most likely have the opportunity to nominate a candidate for the Supreme Court (for those of you who don’t know, this is a LIFETIME appointment). Currently, the Justices are pretty well split on the issues. However, a nomination from either party has the potential to swing those decisions one way or the other – I’m pretty sure you all know what I’m talking about in particular so let me just stress the importance of the female vote, here. Ok?

6. Health Care is a major MAJOR difference between these candidates. No matter whose health care plan you support, this will have a direct impact on your paycheck. Your family’s well-being. Whether or not you will be able to keep your house if you have a serious injury or illness. So it matters, people.

7. It’s become pretty fashionable to participate in politics and reformative action. Think of all the celebrities that get down and dirty with politics! You’ve got Scarlett Johansson and Eva Longoria doing commercials for our President. I recently saw one with a very blonde, very short-haired Miley Cyrus and the kid from Glee. Clint Eastwood appeared at the RNC, and did what I thought was a hilarious bit with an empty chair (consensus was that he bombed, but I really did think it was funny). Whats-her-name from the Clueless movie stood up loud and proud for Gov. Romney. And don’t even get me started on Beyonce and JayZ. So if you have been looking for a way to emulate your favorite celebs without embarrassing yourself in public, the privacy of a voting booth is an awesome way to do it.

8. Did you know that in 2008, out of a US voting-eligible population of 213,313,508 (excluding minors and felons) there were 132,653,958 votes cast in the presidential election? That’s just over 61% of the eligible population. The highest turnout in recent history (if not ever). In 2004, it was 56.2%. In 2000, it was 50.4%. In 1996, it was 49%. What would have happened if those other 80+ million people had cast their vote? The election could have turned out much differently (full disclosure, in this case I was insanely happy content with the way it turned out, but if you weren’t, and you didn’t vote, then… well…)

9. I’m just going to skim right over the “it’s your duty as an American” part because that’s boring, and instead I’ll move on to something that we all love: free stuff. Did you know about the Election Day freebies that are offered at a number of businesses? Here’s a list of some that you are entitled to when you proudly display that sticker I mentioned earlier:

  • 7-Eleven – free cup of coffee
  • Ben & Jerry’s – special Americone Dream sundae
  • Boston Market – free Market Bowl with purchase of Bowl and drink
  • California Tortilla – free taco
  • Einstein Brothers Bagels – free bagel and shmear
  • On the Border – free sopapillas
  • Starbucks – free “Indivisible” wristband
  • Taco Bueno – free guacamole and chips
  • White Castle – free sweet potato fries with purchase
  • Tim Horton’s – free donut with beverage purchase
  • ZipCar – 50% discount on Election Day from 5 am – 9 pm
  • Lululemon is offering free yoga classes throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia on Election Day

You can look online to find even more deals in your area.

10. Don’t you just love this country? Don’t you love that you can pick your profession, speak out against things that you don’t think are right, start your own business, have the freedom to practice any religion you choose (or none, if that’s the case), make your own decisions, raise your children to believe that they can do anything they set their mind to if they’re willing to work hard enough to get it? Don’t you love that there are so many great, differing, interesting belief systems, world views, and opinions in this country? That we can openly debate these things without fear of retribution from the government? I love this country for all of those reasons and more. I consider myself a patriot. I support the troops even though I am incredibly against the war.  But I’m disappointed in this country for a lot of different reasons, too. And I’m not blind to the fact that there is a lot of corruption and flaws in the system. Which is why I want to be involved in making this country better. I know that not everyone agrees with me on how to go about making it better, which is why we should all get out there and be heard, so that we all have some input into how these issues are tackled.

11. Peer pressure. We’re all much more willing to do something if our friends are doing it.  Come on. You know in your teen years you did some things you’re not too proud of because you didn’t want to look like the nerd. Here’s your opportunity to use your persuasive powers for good instead of evil!

12. You are legally entitled to up to 2 hours paid absence from work to ensure you have time to cast your vote. Need I say more?

I, for one, am super excited. I’m going to get up early and go in the morning before there are any lines. Then I’m going to stop at Starbucks on my way to my office and treat myself to a nice hot latte. Then I’m going to obsess over follow the election all day, and after the polls close I’m going to have some friends over and curl up with some Anderson Cooper CNN until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. I’ll probably be late for work on Wednesday. But it will all be worth it, because as both parties are saying – this is an important election. And I am proud to be participating in it.

Oh, there’s just one more thing I wanted to mention real quick: