“If people don’t vote, everything stays the same. You can protest until the sky turns yellow or the moon turns blue, and it’s not going to change anything if you don’t vote.”
– Dolores Huerta, American labor leader, and civil rights activist.
Every four years, registered voters residing in one of the fifty states here in the U.S. can submit their vote during the presidential election. Thus, participating in a decision that will determine the fate of the country’s path towards equity and justice for all.
There are no laws requiring people to vote in local, state, or presidential elections, and yet, the Constitution states that voting is a right and privilege. So why do millions (yeah, gurl MILLIONS) of people choose not to vote?
According to the U.S. Elections Project, in 2016 alone there were approximately 251 million voting-age people in the country. Within that figure, 19 million of them were not eligible to vote. Some of those individuals included non-citizens, people in prison, on parole, or with a past felony conviction in states where there are barriers to voting. That means that 232 million people were eligible to vote in the 2016 election, but only a mere 132 million did so. One hundred million people had the legal right to vote but decided that they weren’t into it.
There’s no doubt that 2020 has consisted of a resounding echo from celebrities and non-partisan groups, like Rock the Vote and Voto Latino, for all eligible voting-age people to exercise their civic responsibility and vote. Here’s what you need to know before November 3:
- Register to vote – if you’re not sure whether you’re registered to vote, Rock the Vote has you covered. You can check your voter status in just a few minutes, and if you aren’t registered to vote, you can register online. ¡Qué fácil!
- Get the word out – I don’t know about you, but it’s sobering to think that 100 million people didn’t vote in 2016. At the end of July, when we were 100 days away from the presidential election; I embarked on a mission to narrow the voting gap and get as many people as possible to participate in this year’s election. I’ve volunteered with Postcards to Voters, Postcards to Swing States, Vote Forward, and I’ve been adding the “Register to Vote” sticker in at least one Story each day on my personal Insta.
- Make a plan – Voto Latino can help you understand the options available to you. Vote-by-mail is the safest way to vote this year, and many states are automatically mailing all registered voters an absentee ballot. However, depending on your state, you may need to request an absentee ballot in order to vote-by-mail. Whether you decide to vote-by-mail (remember to vote early) or in person, it’s vital to learn more about the issues that matter to YOU. Be an informed voter and practice casting your vote by filling out a sample ballot.
- Better together – Remember that our voice is our power. For decades the Latinx community has been at the forefront of social justice movements. This November, we have the opportunity to show up as a collective force and demand for a more inclusive government.
Pre-social media days, mi papi was the biggest influencer in my life. Growing up he would take me to our polling location so I could join him as he cast his vote during each election. The way he normalized voting made me realize how important it was for me to vote once I was of age. Papi’s civic action didn’t stop there. To this day, he writes candidates and demands they tell him why he should consider voting for them. His political flex continues to inspire me and speaks truth to the social influence family and friends play in voting behavior. Don’t be shy to exercise your civic muscle and encourage your familia to vote. I’m Voting, ¿Y Tú?