Earlier this year, I began working with the national civic engagement organization Mi Familia Vota to get more people registered to vote. I remember being absolutely shocked by two things: how easy it is to register to vote and the number of people who can register but choose not to. The main reasons people did not want to vote were that they thought the process was too complicated or that their vote did not matter. To register to vote, all you have to do is be 18 years or older, have some form of state ID, and fill out one form. Your vote will be your voice on the candidates and propositions affecting your community and your country.
Another reason to vote is that to do so is a privilege. It wasn’t until 1920 that women could vote, and it wasn’t until the 1970s that people of color or with limited English skills were allowed to safely register with the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, which translated ballots and banned literacy tests, a major success for minorities that were significantly underrepresented before. Since the beginning of American history, the range of people allowed to vote has come to include all genders, minority groups, the LGBTQ community, and disabled people. As a young woman of color, I greatly appreciate the efforts of all those who protested and fought for our voting rights, for our right to choose our own representation.
Although more than half of the American people are eligible to vote, in the 2016 elections, only 29.1% of registered voters actually did, and the majority of those were white (65.3%). After investigating the history of expanding voting rights, these statistics seem inconceivable to me. Even though I can’t vote yet due to my age, I still advocate for everyone in my community to if they can. I do this because the propositions and candidates that people can vote for directly affect my community, which is primarily composed people of color. Immigration policies, gun control, health care rights and environmental issues are all decided through voting and all directly impact me, my friends, my neighbors, and the people I am surrounded with. They impact our country, our justice, and our equality.
Primary elections in Arizona are on August 28th, which also happens to be my birthday. So, as my birthday wish, I hope to get more people to vote! Everyone go vote if you can, and please spread the importance of choosing your own representation.