For longer than I can remember, I’ve carried around the value that voting is important.
Even now in 2018 there are many people who aren’t afforded the right to choose who writes and implements the laws that dictate their everyday lives. And I was just born having it.
I was one of two (non-closeted) liberals in my high school senior class, and in 2012 during the primary everyone laughed about with cartoons of Republicans exiting clown cars. It was a year for characters to run for high office. Everyone from the glitter-throwing, “Tom Cain-converting,” Vermin Supreme, who wore an irrigation boot as a hat, to “Don’t Google my name” Rick Santorum.
That was my first election. And I reveled in it.
Then in 2016, I got to vote for who might have been the first female president of the United States.
I was raised being a political nerd, and I’ve never been ashamed of it. Being good at math, that I was a little, temporarily embarrassed by. THAT is being a traditional nerd. As a budding adult in high school, I saw knowing my vote counts as more important than knowing how to count. I kid, but honestly, I’ve never taken my right for granted.
That said, I almost didn’t get to vote this time around, and I actually cried.
I moved to Oregon two years ago in December. According to law, when you move to a new state, you’re supposed to switch over your driver’s license within 30 days. I switched mine over as of October 12 … 2018. My excuse: my job. I was depressed and anxious for so much of the time I’ve lived here that just functioning normally was difficult. By the time I came out of that, it was more a matter of finding a day I had time to spend hours on end in a DMV.
That day was October 12 – four days before the deadline to register in Oregon.
I turned in a card with my registration information on October 15 – cutting it close, I know – and I left that card in the hands of the Sandy DMV employees thinking I could breathe again.Then, I called the day after the deadline to make sure I’d been registered. I hadn’t. The woman at the Multnomah County Elections Office very nicely told me to call back next week and check in again.
So I did. And I still wasn’t registered. And the elections office employee, a different woman this time, basically told me “Guess you’re S.O.L. The DMV had 21 days to send us your card, which we had to get by October 16, and then we technically had 21 days to get you in the system. Sorry.”
To say I was upset is an understatement. And, as not nearly as much of a bitch as I may come off sometimes, I didn’t lay into the elections office lady for the fact that I was misinformed at the DMV and then given false hope by elections office lady number one.
I realized I had operated with a very small margin for error by registering when I did. It was vastly my fault.But I was also unhappy to be told incorrect information.
Fast forward to today. Nov. 1 – the last day for voters to mail in ballots. I received my ballot in the mail. I literally checked the envelope about five times to make sure I wasn’t just delirious from lack of sleep, and there it was: my name and new address.
Before I was told I wouldn’t be able to vote, I had planned to write a blog post about voting for the week before election day (this week). But, when I was apparently NOT registered, I thought I didn’t want to seem hypocritical by encouraging people to vote when I couldn’t.But all bets are off now.
I promise not to preach, but here’s the main premise:
To my fellow Millennials – we need to vote.
According to William H. Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Millennials now account for about 75 million of the United States population and about 30 percent of the voting-age population.
If not for apathy, we’d have a great advantage to make the country the one we want to live in and the one we want to start our families/further our careers in.
If we don’t vote, our grandparents’ generation (my parents’ generation) will control our political landscape.
This year, given my experiences in my fairly diversely political coverage area, I especially felt compelled to make my vote count.
Oregon right now is on the verge of being controlled by a Democratic supermajority, meaning in this case that the Democrats in Oregon could gain the upper hand in the Legislature and have control to implement policy without necessarily needing the approval of their Republican colleagues.
As liberal as I have been raised – I don’t really think that’s an entirely good thing. Just like in any relationship (I know you were wondering how I’d gone an entire post without saying anything about dating or my love life) there needs to be compromise. Though Oregon may be majorly inhabited by people of opinions very near my own on topics such as abortion or reproductive rights, I know we aren’t the only people in need of representation.
I grew up, came of voting age, in a very red community. Most years we didn’t have a Democrat in every race to vote for. So, every election season we’d have to actually spend time giving thought to who would be the best candidate of those we had to choose from. And, I am friends with a fair number of very likable, moderate, qualified Republicans because of it. In my time representing a few very rural and somewhat conservative communities as an unbiased news reporter, I have become surprisingly moderate. My job forces me to see multiple perspectives on every issue – and I feel like a better person for it. A more informed person for it.
Even outside of the research I have to do to inform my readers before election day, I work really hard to know exactly what I need to know to vote my best conscience.
Thankfully, now I am going to get to do that. And you, all of you of voting age, have that right and ability too. So please, use it. And if you don’t. Don’t complain to me.