Make a plan for your vote

Sile Surman, Columnist

Do you check your voter registration status every single day, almost to the point of insanity? Join the club. This election has everyone, including myself, on edge lately. 

Quite honestly, I’m probably not the first person to tell you to vote. It is safe to assume you’re tired of hearing it by now. Entire websites and organizations dedicate themselves to convincing you to get out there and vote (I’m partial to, and Most social media platforms display pop-ups or infographics about the election as well.

If my words invoke some annoyance, I’ll understand. Regardless, I will try my best to inform you anyway.

Why do I care? More importantly, why should you care? Four in ten eligible voters in America did not vote in the 2016 election. This fact concerns me greatly. We all have a responsibility to participate in our democracy. Let’s change those numbers this year by voting with a clear and well-informed plan.

Here’s the gist:

  1. Register to vote. Even if you’ve already registered, check your status to be absolutely sure. The registration deadline for most states is early- or mid- October.
  2. Decide how you’ll vote. You can vote by mail, vote early or vote on election day. Be sure to send back your mail-in ballot as soon as possible, or you can drop it off at a dropbox.
  3. Find the nearest polling locations, including ballot drop boxes.
  4. Know the deadlines, especially for early voting. To be extra-sure, add a reminder on Google Calendar.
  5. Know who’s on your ballot. Know your federal, state and local candidates.
  6. Cast your vote.
  7. Bonus: Become a poll worker.

Now what? You know who’s up for reelection, you know your polling location and you’ve got the deadlines down. That’s all fine and good, but I have another very important request. Jot down three people in your life – a family member, friend, neighbor, cousin or co-worker – who you know are on the fence about voting. Ring them up, send a 30-second text or invite them to coffee. And if you can, try asking them about their plan for voting on Election Day. Who knows, you might convince one extra person to cast their ballot in this crucial election.

Here’s the thing with apathy and disillusionment: I get it. I really do. How can you not feel it sometimes? But if you care deeply about the welfare and protection of the most vulnerable populations in America, I urge you to move past the voter registration stage. Take the extra steps to help voter turnout reach higher levels than in 2016.

In addition to voting for the president, we’re also voting for who they’ll choose to put in other important positions. Unfortunately, we were all reminded of this last week. On Friday, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away due to complications from pancreatic cancer. Regardless of your political convictions, it’s incontestable that she spent her whole life fighting for the fair and just interpretations of our laws. She championed justice and gender equality with an admirable vigor.

My messages draw heavily from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s response to the saddening loss of RBG. Though this event will certainly complicate the United States’ political circumstances, I wholeheartedly agree with her that this is no time for apathy and discouragement. This is no time to sigh in defeat and say, “well, at this point, we’re screwed.” 

As AOC puts it, “Now is not the time for cynicism or hopelessness. There is and continues to be a political possibility to preserve our democracy & move forward.” To maintain this possibility, we must employ a group effort like none other. Let this be a motivating moment for us all to participate and bring about change. Get out there and vote.