In less than a week Americans will be voting for the next leader of our country. There is a lot of trepidation in the land because of it. I spoke to someone earlier today who had recently done a volunteer project for RPSV. We were discussing the unprecedented stress this year due to COVID-19. She then mentioned the stress brought on because of the election. I had not thought about it before she said it but yes, she is right.
During this incredibly turbulent year, the election has also been the focus of countless conversations. In the past voting was an orderly (relatively) process. Now, due to changes at post offices and other issues, there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty about exactly what will happen next week. All I know is that no matter what your political leanings, it is really important that your voice be heard.
I voted about three weeks ago. It is the first time I have ever voted early. Truth be told, I never knew you could (other than via mail-in ballots). I just went to City Hall, parked in the front, walked in, showed my ID, voted, and walked out. The entire process took me less than eight minutes. That is something I have always loved about my community. Easy peasy voting, even on election day.
Yet, around the country, Americans are standing in lines for up to four hours if not longer to do the same thing I was able to do in just a few moments. It seems wrong. It seems unfortunate. It is our new reality. What I love is that, despite all the obstacles, people are making the effort to vote early despite the discomfort to make sure they are counted! Old people, young people―no demographic is left out. It is a beautiful sight to see!
In the past when I have voted I have always said that it is a privilege to vote in our elections because it is a seamless process (normally). I used to say that we should be grateful because in some countries people must stand in line for hours and sometimes under duress. I would never have imagined that would happen here.
My cousin Idessa Redding lived in Montgomery, Alabama, and went to the same church as Martin and Rosa. She called them by their first names. Idessa spent years under great personal peril signing people up to vote. This was around the time of the Civil Rights Act and all the chaos that happened at that time. She empowered many disenfranchised people to share their voices. There is a school named in her honor in her hometown. I am so proud of her for what she did!
Another one of my cousins wrote the spiritual “We Shall Overcome”. He is now featured in the Smithsonian. I often say my desire to speak up for those without a voice comes naturally because of my lineage.
My cousins and other relatives taught me the importance of being counted―not only while voting but in life. I often tweet “Stand for Something”. Something must matter to you, there has to be something you are passionate about. Stand up for it!
Many people fought to make voting accessible to all Americans. Their efforts should not be in vain. In my opinion, voting is a right that should be exercised. If you have not done so already or were planning to simply skip the process, please reconsider. Taking eight minutes or four hours out of your day to make sure your vote is cast is probably one of the best uses of your time during this topsy turvy year 2020.