Rock the Vote

Today is National Voter Registration Day. Go register! It is super easy and very important.

The Fifteenth Amendment (Amendment XV) to the United States Constitution prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”

 

The Twenty-sixth Amendment (Amendment XXVI) barred the states or federal government from setting a voting age higher than eighteen. It was adopted in response to student activism against the Vietnam War

This post isn’t designed to tell you who to vote for, but that it is everyone’s responsibility to take an active part of the American civil discourse by the simple act of voting. As they say, we live in turbulent times, and to get your voice heard you must vote!

And, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain about the direction our country is heading.

Voting Time Commitment:

  • 2 minutes to register online
  • One hour to research issues and candidates (can be broken up over a few weeks)
  • 20 minutes to vote

All in all, pretty easy and very worth it.

So, go now, and register: http://www.rockthevote.org/

—-

Now that I have blathered on about registering, and, hopefully, you are only reading this next part after you have done so, I want to talk briefly about my history with voting. I truly have never understood friends or acquaintances who didn’t believe in it, or felt their vote didn’t matter. And I don’t mean that derisively, I have just never, ever understood.

And I think that has three causes:

  1. my grandfather
  2. my mom’s polling place when I was a kid
  3. SI and the 2000 presidential elevtion

My grandfather, Adolfo, was an immigrant from the Philippines. He moved to the US in the 50s, and always held his American citizenship dear. Like many immigrants, he voted in every election and he always told my father, and later me, that you didn’t have to vote, but if you came to dinner on Election Night and hadn’t, then you had to find food elsewhere. He said it with a wry sense of humor, but was very serious about it at the same time. We lived at my grandparents’ house from when I was 5-8 years old, and I remember that voting conversation every year (and sometimes more than that when there were serious primaries).

My mom voted in the Outer Sunset until we moved to San Bruno in 2000. Her polling place was in the 40s on Judah and was possibly someone’s very large garage. I only have vague memories of the building, but I vividly remember the children’s voting booth. While my mom checked in and went to vote, I got to go to my own booth, made just my size, and push through the little circles on the paper. I don’t know if it was a replica ballot, or just paper… I’m not sure if there were real names on it. But I know that I thought it was one of the coolest things ever. Voting was super cool at age 6.

So, with those two experiences, I thought voting was a) necessary and b) fun. High school confirmed both of these things. I was on the high school debate team – Lincoln Douglas, baby! – and was preferally aware of politics during my first two years. At that point, I didn’t have super strong political beliefs – they were developing but still in infancy – and the JSA hosted a mock debate for the 2000 Gore/Bush election. I remember thinking that the seniors who were debating were so smart, cool, interesting – and I wasn’t really differentiatating between the sides. I just loved that they cared and could have a pretty intense debate about these candidates.

And then 2000 got crazy. How after that election could anyone think one vote didn’t matter? Every vote mattered, and we had the hanging chads to prove it. That election cemented my belief in the importance of the American political system and the stupidity of the electoral college.

So, thanks to my Grandfather, my mom taking me with her to go voting (probably mostly out of convenience), and whatever teacher or student who organized those debates in 2000, I was super stoked to vote once I turned 18. And it ended up being a whopper! The 2003 fall election was the Recall Election for Governor Gray Davis. I remember studying hard about the recall, and the possible candidates. I had been at UCD for only a month or so, and I already knew my freshman year roommate and I did not agree politically. I posted a sign that said “Friends Don’t Let Friend Vote for the Recall” and she posted one for Schwarzenegger…. you win some, you lose some…. But voting remained interesting, important and pretty cool.

So, register, and if you are at all passionate about it, educate your children (or your friend’s children!) young. And, I truly believe it doesn’t need to be about specific politics, although I think those conversations are also important. Voting is the right and responsibility of all Americans regardless of your point of view or political party. Let’s get out that vote!!

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