Updated: Nov 4, 2020
Thursday afternoon I sat in my apartment and sorted out my mail-in ballot. In the state of California, where I live, we receive mail-in ballots by default, but I went online weeks ago and manually requested one just to be sure (I’m still getting used to west coast life).
I diligently read up on the local measures, making sure I fully understood the implications of each one before deciding which bubble to darken. Then, I went over the step-by-step instructions for how to properly sign, seal, and deliver it. Finally, I walked the envelope to the closest official drop box and gingerly inserted it. The process was admittedly tedious, but I’m so glad I did it. I truly felt a slight weight off my shoulders afterward.
I’ve been ready for this election for a long time—four years, actually. I’m not writing this to push my political leanings on you, though. I’m writing this as your neighbor, a fellow inhabitant of our flawed country, encouraging you to vote. I say “flawed” respectfully. I’m proud to live here. There are many things I love about our country, like upward mobility and the fact that it’s the birthplace of hip-hop. But no healthy relationship is exempt from criticism.
In fact, I believe that as denizens of this land, we’re best suited to critique it. To quote James Baldwin: I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
We have great challenges ahead of us, no matter who wins this election. We’re facing racial injustice/inequity, climate change, a student debt crisis, and an active pandemic. Those are just a few issues, listed in no particular order. Of course there are many more. Even if you don’t agree with everything the candidates have said and done, voting remains a tool to move the needle to create impactful change.
I’m hopeful that the results of this historical election will move us toward a brighter, more unified, more compassionate future for America. I’m comforted by the voter turnout numbers that have made the news so far. Texas has already surpassed its total 2016 voter count! Other states that have reached notable figures in early voting are Georgia, Washington, and Nevada.
I beg of you, do not watch this moment unfold from the sidelines. Vote for whomever you wish to vote, but please, cast your ballot. Participate with your friends, families, and colleagues. It’s the only way democracy truly works.
If you’ve already voted or plan on doing so by Election Day (Tuesday, November 3rd if you somehow missed the memo 😉), kudos to you! If you’re still on the fence about whether to vote or not, I hope this nudges you toward completing and dropping off your ballot. Your country will thank you.