Growing up, the adults in my life never failed to stress the importance of voting. Whether it be voting in presidential, mayoral, or midterm elections, I knew the adults in my life would be heading to the polls to vote and then heading home to tell their kids why voting matters so much.
When I lived under my parents roof, voting felt completely out of reach for obvious reasons: it was. However, I had it drilled into my head that as soon as I turned eighteen, I was going to register to vote and participate in every election I could. But when the next presidential election rolled around after I had turned the legal age, I found that voting still felt out of reach–more specifically, the idea of my individual voice actually making a difference felt completely out of reach. On top of this, I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to vote–participating in politics felt like participating in an ongoing cycle of division and chaos.
It also didn’t help that my friends nor I were jumping up and down for either presidential candidate, a predicament I know many other voters faced in the 2020 election. So even though I had been taught my whole life about the significance of voting, I found myself nearing the deadline to vote without even having registered.
Two years later, halfway through Joe Biden’s first presidential term, something happened that I truly thought I would never see in my lifetime: the overturning of Roe v. Wade. I woke up that morning and found mixed text messages on my phone–some from my southern family members who were happy to have “rights given back to the states” and others from my Colorado friends, who were completely horrified with the court’s decision. Having been mostly surrounded by pro-choice voters in the North Denver bubble, it had become less obvious to me that there was still a massive, loud, and strong force of people fighting for not just one side, but both sides.
So, I didn’t register to vote in time for the 2020 presidential election. But the sudden overturning of Roe v. Wade was sort of a wake-up call that reminded me of just how quickly the political climate was changing. I made a promise to myself that morning that I would vote in the next midterm election, and every other election that followed. I simply couldn’t let my voice go to waste any longer while everything around me was constantly shifting and changing.
Midterm election day, which is on Tuesday, November 8, is your chance to vote for members of Congress and representatives at the state and local levels. Since midterm elections don’t receive as much attention as presidential elections, voter turnout is usually lower. However, midterm elections are arguably just as important as presidential elections. Lower turnout can lead to limited, non-representative groups of voters making outsized decisions about your fundamental rights. So if you’re struggling to convince your friends or family to get out and vote, tell them this: the fewer votes there are, the more weight each one carries. So not only does your vote count for something, it gives opposing votes less power over the final results.
So if you’re on the fence about voting, remember that your voice matters. Remember that your vote counts. Remember what I said about the strong force fighting for the opposite side? They will be at the polls. Will you?