To me, to vote


Throughout history, voting is a chance to choose. To choose who speaks for you. To choose who makes the laws that you are required to abide. To choose who is in control.

Voting has, and still does, symbolize freedom and equality. Voting has always been encouraged to the White Anglo Saxon Protestant male in the United States. In 1869, after a long battle of equality (that I understand is still under way) African Americans got the right to vote, by way of the 15th Amendment. Women got the right to vote in 1920, through the 19th Amendment. When these amendments passed, allowing these large groups of citizens to vote, I can only imagine the rejoicing that took place in the streets.

And though I did not have to fight a war on equality or protest that I am more than a housewife in the early 20th century, I too am rejoicing in the streets.

I have lived through 18 years of three different presidents and five election seasons. No election season has ever been more exciting than this one to me. On March 1 (Super Tuesday) I will cast my first ballot that will have a role, albeit small, in deciding the nominee of either party I choose. And in November, I will join the majority of Americans over the age of 18 as we choose our next president and lesser governing body.

I watched in 2008 as John McCain and Barack Obama dueled it out over primetime television debates. I watched in 2012 as Mitt Romney tried to end Obama’s term after four years. Watching these debates was less about platforms and choosing a party and more about the intrigue of the unknown. And as I sat there, watching these debates, and in turn watching the results on election day, it somehow didn’t register that I would be getting to vote so soon. In my childlike mind, voting seemed like the adult thing to do, something to discuss over a lengthy family dinner. But now, as I watch the debates, I am awakened (maybe) to the fact that in less than a month, I will be able to vote.

To me, to vote is to do my part as an American citizen. Many others have not been so fortunate, so who am I to brush off this opportunity as meaningless or unnecessary?

Some people are cynics and say that one vote doesn’t matter that much. But in 2000, the presidential election was determined by 537 votes in Florida. I recognize that that election was particularly controversial, and not every election ends in that way, but 537 people chose Bush, and that added up to victory.

I heard once that if you don’t vote in an election, you can’t complain when things go wrong, because you had the opportunity to change the outcome and didn’t. Opportunity is available to any American citizen who is 18 years of age or older. Seize that opportunity and vote.