Voting Is a Start, Not an End

By Rachel Schmidt
November 03, 2015

How great it is that we live in a democratic country where we choose our elected officials. We have a government “by the people and for the people” that rejects the notion that power can be concentrated into the leadership of the unelected few. Historically, democracy has been a cataclysmic shift to the idea that all have the right to take care of society. As people of faith, we participate in our democratic government through voting on election day and through advocacy the rest of the year. This freedom to vote is an important and considerable responsibility; here are some best practices to simplify and prioritize the process.

NETWORK has a tool that can help you register to vote, vote via mail, and reminds you about upcoming elections. TurboVote helps take some of the guesswork out of voting when it comes to the logistics and can help you plan ahead for voting day. It will send text and e-mail reminders about upcoming election days. If your state allows absentee ballots, a great option is to sign up with Turbovote, vote ahead of time, and avoid the hustle of Election Day.

But what about knowing which candidates to choose? Even if you plan and/or get your absentee ballot ahead of time, choosing from a list of names you’ve possibly never heard before can be daunting. You also want to be a responsible voter who chooses a candidate who represents your values and community. It’s tempting to take the easy way out, check some boxes, and come out of the ballot box gilded in “I Voted” stickers. To avoid the ineffectiveness of being a “Gilded Voter” there are some tools that can help you research candidates. Votesmart.org offers a tool called “Vote Easy” that helps you determine which presidential candidate matches your views.

Voting is not the solution to all issues in a country or government, but it is an integral part of the solution. If it wasn’t important, gerrymandering and voter restrictive laws would not be created to sway voting outcomes. Russell Brand, an actor, comedian, and social activist, finds voting to be so meaningless that he advocates against doing it. Brand is right to want more out of our political system, but we must start somewhere. The vote has not become null and void, and it’s a start. To be fair, it is also not an end. We must use our power, as a collective voice, to raise the important issues to our elected officials time and time again. This act goes far beyond the ballot box.

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