This past Saturday, I volunteered for the first time with the League of Women Voters and Team Dallas Votes. Along with another volunteer, I helped to register people to vote at a Half Price Books in Dallas (the large store on Northwest Highway). Though I rarely chose to talk about politics on my blog, voting is an issue I feel very passionate about. I'd like to encourage everyone to register to vote if you have not already, and to vote regularly--not just in Presidential elections, but in primaries, midterms, and even local school board elections.
Dismal Voter Participation in TexasIn the November 2014 elections in Texas, only 28% of eligible voters cast a ballot. That means that instead of a representative democracy, we have politicians who represent only a small fraction of the people of Texas. Only 61% of eligible voters are registered to vote, and the number is even more dismal for young people--only 43% of eligible 18-30 year-olds are registered to vote. No doubt, politicians would pay much more attention to the issues and struggles that this demographic faces, from student loan debt to underemployment, if they had to answer to them at the polls. But by and large, they don't.
Anyone can make a difference
Registering to vote is easy, and it does not require a photo ID (though in Texas you will need an ID when you go to vote). You can find the forms to fill out here, or you can pick them up at the Voter Registar's Office, the County Clerk's office, as well as libraries, government offices, and high schools. If you are already registered to vote, go vote! If you'd like to do more, I'd encourage anyone to get deputized and volunteer to register people to vote, just like I did. I had a good time talking to people about the importance of voting, and helping them fill out their forms. We had a good turnout at our table, and it felt great to make a difference.
Too often people succumb to a type of despair when they look at our political system. It's always been this way, they'll say, nothing will ever change. Except that's wrong. Things change all the time; everything changes. The question is, will that change be for the better? As they say in Amnesty International, it's better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness. I know that as one person, it's unlikely any efforts I make will have a huge impact on our next election. But that doesn't mean it isn't important to make that effort, because when enough people want a change, change will happen.