Is It Truly Necessary To Vote? Does My Vote Even Make a Difference?

I believe that the importance of voting depends on who you ask.  The bottom line is that it is a constitutional right for every American citizen, although it was not granted to everyone until the pioneers of the civil rights era fought, bled and died for everybody to have this right.  Unfortunately, this right is still being challenged today in 2016. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Just as there is a maturation process with eating, there should also be a similar progression in how we think, act and conduct ourselves.  In the eating process we start out on milk, move to cereal in our milk, onto baby food and ultimately graduating to solid foods.  So, I must ask when are we going to get off of milk and graduate to the level we should be on? The good book even confirms this principle:

As a child, I talked like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child, but when I became an adult, I put away childish things.  People its past time for us to wake up and rise to the occasion.

It is also written and has been proven that people perish because of a lack of knowledge. I will dare to say this is truer today then it what was before.  Unfortunately, some of us are still in grade school, while the rest of the world is operating at Master and Doctorate degree level.  They are playing chess and we are stuck, complacent, and content with playing checkers.

You may ask what do you mean? Well, I’m glad you are asking. We overcome some milestones, win some awards, break some records, get our first black President and we get the “status quo” mentality thinking we have finally arrived.  Well, we as a country have not, there is still plenty of work to do.

One of the areas we need to work on is “The Right to Vote.”  I’m sure there are plenty of folks thinking, we’ve already accomplished this, but that is furthest from the truth.  Yes, we have garnered the right to vote, but it doesn’t stop there.

We still have people in 2016 who have never registered to vote, another group of people who are registered and don’t vote because they have voter apathy, then we have the tactics being orchestrated by a “special” group of individuals fighting to suppress the vote.  As you can see, our work is not yet done.  Until you become educated on the tactics, the process and understand what is really going on, you will not be in position to fight or address the issues.

So, I am going to enlighten you on some of the challenges our country is facing on the cusp of the upcoming presidential election.  Then, I will provide some suggestions on things you can do to be about the change.  Remember the old adage; you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.  Let’s be more solution oriented by becoming educated on the process, the challenges and by creating a pact based on solidarity.  The ability to vote yields Power and We cannot allow this power to be taken away from any citizen.

Here are some examples of the challenges that currently exist:

• During the civil rights era there were poll taxes, reciting of the preamble and knowing how many bubbles in a bar of soap were set up as barriers to voting and today we have similar barriers, but at a different level.

o Photo id required for voting

o Reduction in early voting days from the traditional 45 days to 21 days

o Making it difficult for states to have election day registrations

o Redistricting – changing how people are represented according to where they live In some states like GA, redistricting allows the state to create a Super Majority next year that allows the newly elected officials the power to pass constitutional amendments without having the voice of citizens they represent say whether or not they agree or disagree

o State election officials and local election officials are telling untruths such as 3rd party entities cannot do voter registrations at schools/colleges.  This is further from the truth.  Furthermore, schools/colleges are automatically considered deputy sites and the school leader have the right to choose someone to conduct voter registration at their school if they so choose.

o Lack of consistency and overall guidance of local election boards.  Meaning if there are 159 counties, as there are in GA, there are 159 different operating procedures.

For example: Former President Jimmy Carter said he monitor 89 elections around the world and he is unable to monitor them in the US because: We don’t monitor election where there is not a central voter registration voter administration authority.  Some have board of registrations and others board of elections conducted by a probate judge.

They tend to get appointed by how the state legislature sets them up, a political appointment (political party and county commission), etc.  They meet monthly and do reviews.  The state board determines the procedures the local board will administer.  They are politically appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor and political party.

For example, GA’s State Election board looks nothing like GA – all white male.  You can push for them to model other states that pass legislatures to ensure these types of boards represent composition of the state they represent.

o Limit who can put out information regarding the right to vote

o Limitation of Deputy Registers who represent the population They are the ones responsible for dropping people from the roles and how the budgets for elections are administered.  You can attend the meetings, request copies of the minutes, petition the time for the meetings to be changed.  They determine what changes will be made concerning elections for their local area.

Here are some suggestions on how to counter these barriers

• Organizations, churches, etc. form a pact to create programs that educate the voters and support voter registration

• Create Absentee Ballot Voting Campaigns and Rallies (you can contact me for details)

• Understand why people don’t vote, understand their situation, and determine a strategic way to meet them where they are as a way to correct it at their level

o Ex 1: A mother on welfare, living in a house that’s falling apart, working hard for the $100 a month she gets, children at a school that’s failing to educate them, a child is said to be ADHD and they are driving this mom crazy – with all this noise, do you think you would be focused on politics and getting out to vote or more focused on putting food on your table? Their vote represents their voice and power to push for a change for people in her situation Jobs: the state of the economy is determined by the president Increased opportunities for her to go to school and/or get a trade

o Ex 2: A Young Person with Voter Apathy – don’t understand why it matters and what difference it will make.

You can make these following points as they are more relevant to them:

Jobs: the state of the economy – where the jobs are (overseas), why they were lost (tax credits, increased revenue, etc.) and how history and voting for president impacts jobs. Use testimonials of people who benefited from the unemployment extension in 2014 and 2015.

Student loans: how its improved over the last couple of years and the methods put in place to minimize the amount of debt students graduate with

Healthcare: how they can stay on their parents insurance until they are 26 instead of 18.  Meaning they don’t have to use the school infirmary Many activists of the past were their age and it’s important for them to get educated and informed about what will really happen.  “Reality TV” is not what life will or can be for them.  What is going on in the real world the power of the vote is reality. You not being interested in voting or in the government does not stop the government from not being interested in you, especially if you are a young minority male.

• Know who is on your local board of county elections

• Know the voting history of your elected officials to see if they truly support your interest

• Document those you register in a database so you can follow up with them to ensure they vote (in person or absentee)

• Partner with your local elected officials to get specifics on who is not registered and who is registered and have not voted and devise a plan on how to get them registered and vote

• Verify your registration is still active and accurate

• Educate those who have records with misdemeanors and no felony conviction(s) that they are eligible to register to vote.  Those who have served their full term and are no longer on parole are also eligible. You can also partner with Sheriffs, Police Chiefs and Community Leaders to register individuals in this population (inside and outside of jail).

The intent of this article is to raise the awareness and empower people to get off of the sidelines and out of the place of complacency.  There is a lot of work that needs to be done and it requires the full participation of every citizen of this great country.  Those who fail to learn the lessons from the past, will repeat the lessons again.  Motivate yourself and others to not only ready and aspire to want change, but be about the change by taking action today.