Elections matter and so does your vote

Published 10:45 am Tuesday, November 1, 2022

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November 8 is election day, not only in Tennessee, but all across this nation. This November’s general election is pivotal and will determine the control of both houses of Congress. Various commentators have predicted one or both flip to Republican control.
Though not as heated in Tennessee, election ads and fliers elsewhere have come fast and furious this year.
On the ballot this year in Tennessee is the race for governor. Governor Bill Lee is seeking a second term. Gov. Bill Lee, the Republican incumbent, remains popular in an increasingly conservative state.
The governor recently released a new campaign ad: “I’m proud of the work we’ve done the last four years: America’s fastest growing economy, America’s lowest taxes, a lot more skilled trades. We’ve put families first like we said we would, and I think we’re just getting started. Being your governor has been the honor of my life and I’d be honored to serve, again.”
He has refused to debate his Democrat opponent, Jason Martin, a physican and councilman from Memphis.
Also on the ballot are races for the Tennessee State House and Senate, as well as the Elizabethton City Council.
It’s important that you vote. Voting is a privilege too often taken for granted, one that wasn’t afforded to our ancestors just a few generations ago. To this day, millions of people still can’t cast their ballots for who they believe would best represent their voice in our democracy.
For much of U.S. history, women and young men, as well as most Black people, Natives and Asian Americans were barred from participating in the electoral process. Before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, most Black Americans were disenfranchised. Women were similarly not granted the right to vote until 1920; it was only after the decades-long suffrage movement that the 19th Amendment was put in place. These changes had to be fought for.
Citizens marched, petitioned, boycotted, and went on hunger strikes. They were abused, arrested, and many lost their lives — all to ensure the fundamental right to vote for every American. Those voting rights are in jeopardy today.
Yet, many take the right to vote for granted. In any given election, between 35 and 60 percent of all eligible voters in the United States do not cast a ballot.
This year, our country has witnessed unprecedented challenges — countless lives lost due to COVID-19, police brutality, raging wildfires and poverty in the midst of a recession. With this has come the opportunity for some much-needed reflection and a desire to enact lasting change. We’ve seen a recent increase in political activism, spearheaded by young people.
But conversation and initiatives, while important, are only half the battle. The government is designed to represent you. If you’re dissatisfied with the status quo, let it be known to those in power so they are compelled to change their ways and better reflect your ideals.
There is an understandable sense of hopelessness among voters who are tired of choosing between two seemingly inadequate options or feel their vote doesn’t hold weight. But elections in the past have been decided by just hundreds of votes. In 2009, Sen. Al Franken won the Minnesota race by a mere 312 votes from the 3 million cast. The 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore was similarly decided by just 537 votes during a recount.
By not voting, you simply give more weight to the voices of those who do vote. In a democracy, your vote is your voice. Don’t censor yourself.

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