BY TAYLOR ROBINSON
I’ve heard more than one person say it. Even I’ve said it. Five words can sum up some people’s view toward voting in elections, “My vote does not matter.” With that attitude, you’re right. I had the same attitude until I decided it would be better to vote than not to and then complain about who got elected. I had two choices when I turned 18: one being I could either get registered, a right we fought and struggled for or two, continue to let others determine who gets to make decisions for my life and well-being.
I got informed and I voted. Now six years later and well into the 2016 presidential campaign, I’m faced with another decision about whether or not to be informed on the major candidates and the choice to vote next November.
For too long, it seems that an idea’s been planted in our brains that only people with money make the decisions on who gets to run the country and that talking about politics is some kind of taboo. That’s exactly what they want you to think…is that okay with you?
Me neither. It all boils down to the fact that no matter our race, gender, sexual orientation, or whatever, we all share the same basic human needs. We all deserve food, clean water, shelter, education, healthcare, steady employment, and the list goes on.
The longer we don’t speak out about what happens to us as individuals and as a country, the raspier our voices get until we’ve forgotten how to speak completely.
No one can tell you who to vote for when the primaries come around. No one can tell you to be democrat, republican, liberal, or other. These decisions are your decisions. There may be a lot to learn with the number of known candidates running for president, over 20 among the parties, but the information is out there.
Google a few names, watch some insightful YouTube videos, learn their positions on the issues most important to you and what affects you the most. What are their stances on free tuition in higher education? What are they doing to cut taxes so that it takes less money out of your paycheck and puts more food in the fridge? How are they handling the income inequality amongst the classes? Believe it or not, we’re getting to that age where these decisions are really going to affect us and the generations after us. We’re the generations that get to change what’s going on if we don’t like it, but only if we want to change it.
In Michigan, we’re pretty lucky and don’t have as many voting restrictions that other states have adopted, especially since the Supreme Court’s decision in 2013 to take out a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Essentially, it makes it more difficult for minorities to vote, expands voting restrictions including needing a voter ID, and more.
In Michigan, if you don’t have a voter ID you simply sign an affidavit, can cast your ballot, and it counts just like someone with a valid ID. To register to vote in Michigan, you must be a U.S. citizen, be 18 years old by Election Day, be a resident of Michigan, and be a resident of the city or township where you’re applying to register to vote. Visit www.michigan.gov for more information about voting.
President Barack Obama declared Sept. 22 of this year National Voter Registration Day. On this day there will be volunteers around the country helping people register, educating those who are already registered, and spreading the word about the importance of your vote and how much it really does matter. Visit www.nationalvoterregistrationday.org for more information.