Do You Exercise…Your Right to Vote?

February 2nd is the season premiere of my favorite show on network television.

It is also Election Day –  the reason why there has been so much hot air on the radio, tv spots with staged handshakes and conversations in cafes and automated “messages” from the candidates who really want to get to know my voicemail!

Unfortunately I did not become a US citizen in time to vote for the primaries so I will register to vote on Thursday and get ready for the next round. I’m excited and very new to the process as a voter. During my former life as a newspaper reporter I spent hours covering campaigns, and election day/night/early next morning was always a long, caffeinated, adrenaline-pumping or mind-numbing time. But I was definitely an observer, watching the process unfold and fascinated by the many choices people made or simply ignored.

The 15th Amendment gave African American men the right to vote. The 19th Amendment gave women of all races the right to vote.

But I know plenty of Americans out there who don’t exercise their right to vote. Are you jaded? Are you not casting a vote in defiance or protest? Are you lazy or indifferent? Why don’t you vote?

And then there are those of you who will be out there tomorrow staring at the ballot. What wins your vote or what makes you want to vote for the other candidate? What issues are closest to you? Do you vote straight party or do you go seat by seat?

And what tips would you give a newbie?

I am genuinely curious. For me, becoming an American, in part, has been an intentional decision to become more involved in the conversations and process. I may not make policy, but I want to be informed and inform policy-makers. Am I being naive and idealistic?


  1. Jennifer Wilson February 2, 2010

    I was preparing some brilliant comment filled with advice, anecdotes, the need for political activism, or just generally lamenting the low voting turn out.

    Then it hit me.

    I’m not currently registered. And that’s sheer laziness. I’ve moved abroad and haven’t gotten around to it for the past 4 months (or around to figuring out my taxes, but that’s another thought).

    The fact that I didn’t even have it on my list of things-to-about-living-abroad tells me I shouldn’t be commenting on this post.

    Enjoy the new right to vote – keep us informed of how you find the process!

  2. Mike Hickerson February 2, 2010

    Congratulations! One of my routines is to check out the sample ballot (here in KY, they post each ballot online – not sure if that’s a nationwide practice). There are always some local races that I wasn’t expecting.

  3. Lauren D February 3, 2010

    I’m an obsessive voter – the kind who votes in every single election, no matter how small. I have been known to have opinions on the primaries for county treasurer.

    Because I believe in the power of a vote, I’ve stayed registered in my home state of Colorado, which is in an interesting period of political transition. And yes, I’ve voted absentee on the vast majority of ballot issues, county, state, and national elections. Since I’m now going to be longer-term in Chicago, I’m starting to debate whether or not I should change my registration. Part of me wants to be involved in the place where I live, but part of me knows that the vote I wield in Colorado is more likely to “make a difference,” especially given my party affiliation.

    I’m a relative newbie myself (my first presidential election was Bush v. Kerry in 2004), but the one recommendation is to vote in primaries and local elections, and be involved in local politics. The vast majority of things that influence our daily lives are not decided by abstract people in DC, but by our state and county representatives. We’ve lost that truth in the era of national, 24 hour news channels, but it’s an important thing to remember.


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