Our country is gearing up for what could be one of the largest voter turnouts for midterm elections. As active citizens, we know there is no such thing as “not my issue” - politics are deeply intertwined in our work. Groups of people have been excluded from the democratic process as long as it has existed, their voices deemed unimportant (or dangerous) by those holding power. And though laws have been amended, giving more individuals the ability to freely vote, many members of our communities are still left in the margins.
If you’ve ever attended a Diversity and Social Justice training, you’ve heard of privilege - the unearned advantages people experience based in their identity or experience. These conversations typically center race, gender, ability, religion, and the like, but we rarely consider the pervasiveness of privilege when it comes to civic participation. Often we think of power in politics falling on the shoulders of elected officials - while there is truth in this, power also lies in being able to easily cast a ballot that you know will count.
Our elected officials are expected to be direct representatives of our communities. We’re taught that a vote is a way to express our personal interest in the democracy, but active citizens must also consider our ballot’s larger impact. Just as we’d expect our legislators in the chambers of state or federal capitol buildings to represent those whose voices wouldn’t otherwise be heard, does our vote represent all communities - including those left in the margins of voting access?
During this election season, we invite you to join us in considering how to redistribute and utilize the power of dialogue and civic engagement. As we prepare to take a clear stance on issues that matter, as voters, we must ensure we’re informed and intentional. It takes time and effort - often hours to research what should be (but rarely is) a simple proposal. If you’re going to find yourself in a poll booth this November 6th (and we really hope you will) remember that the opportunity to vote comes with the weight of responsibility: how are you advocating for the people and environment around you through the boxes you check?
Finally, if you’re a living in this country, but unable to vote - your voice has influence. It matters. And we’re honored to be in community with you.