November 2022

November Thought of the Month

"Know what's important and what isn't. Have the wisdom to know the right thing to do, the integrity to do it, the character to stand up to those who don't, and the courage to stop those who won't."

~ Mark Goulston

When I read this quote, I thought it was perfect in the lead up to a major Election Day. I remember the year I voted for the first time. I watched all the debates on TV, read the editorials and articles in the newspapers, went to my polling place as informed as I could be, and sat up late watching the returns. The one thing that surprised me after the results came in were the reports of how few Americans actually voted. I couldn't understand by so many people wouldn't exercise the right so many fought and died to give us.

Then came the 2020 election and COVID. For the first time the majority of states opened up mail-in and dropbox voting to all citizens as a safety precaution. According to the U.S. Census, 66.8% of eligible voters went to the polls that year. The year I first voted, the turnout was 54%. It made me think that it might not be just a lack of desire stopping people from voting. So what changed?

The main change over the last years was increased voter access. Many of us can remember when the only time you could vote was on Election Day from 6 am to 6 pm. Most people were at work or commuting during that time. This limitation hit the working class hardest. How many employers allowed their employees to take off for the hour or more needed to vote during the working day? Now nearly every state has some form of early voting, so it makes sense that turnout is improving. The easier states make it to vote, the more people are able to vote, and the truer the U.S. is to its commitment to give every citizen a voice.

And now government officials are saying all the changes made to allow us to vote during the height of COVID are no longer needed. I say that if they truly wanted every eligible citizen to vote, they'd leave them in place, even expand on them. But for months now we have seen a concentrated effort to deprive citizens of their right to vote under the guise of making our elections more secure. The quality of some of our candidates leave much to be desired. We hear about intimidation tactics at ballot drop boxes, physical attacks on politicians, and threats against poll workers on the news. Fear — real or unfounded — is spreading and there's no sign that it's going to get better anytime soon.

Don't let that make you feel hopeless or prevent you from doing what you can. The midterms are next week and it may well be the most important election in the history of the United States. There's still time to learn who your candidates are and vote for the ones you believe worthy of your support.

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