No excuse not to vote — some final thoughts ahead of Election Day
Note: This post was first published on Med City Beat's Facebook page.
Election Day. A chance to be heard. A chance to help decide the direction of our nation.
For all the talk about how the system is “rigged,” consider this: We are fortunate to live in a vibrant democracy, one that has endured for 240 years. This is not an accident. Rather, it is the result of our nation’s commitment to upholding the belief that all citizens — no matter ethnicity, income or social status — have the right to collectively choose their leaders.
Through wars at home and abroad, from the streets of Selma to the battlefields of France, millions of Americans have faced death and persecution fighting for and protecting the right to vote. At this very moment, millions more across the globe are battling discrimination and authoritarianism for the same opportunity.
Therefore, voting is not a privilege; it is a responsibility.
Minnesota has a long history of civic participation. In fact, the state has led the U.S. in voter turnout for the past nine presidential elections. Political scientists attribute the enthusiasm to competitive state elections (although the state has for decades remained solidly blue for presidential elections, state-level offices remain balanced), a relatively affluent and educated population, and a concerted effort of removing barriers for voting.
For example, did you know?
- Minnesota is one of just 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, that allow same-day voter registration. Just show up to your polling place with your photo ID (or another valid form of documentation) and cast your vote.
- You have a right to take time off work to vote without losing your pay, personal leave or vacation time. In other words, your boss must pay you for the time you need to vote, as long as it falls within your scheduled work time. Minnesota is among 22 states that require employers to give employees time off to vote.
- Minnesota has one of the longest early-voting periods in the nation. Additionally, a newly-implemented policy designed to boost voter turnout now allows individuals to cast their votes early without an excuse. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, over 400,000 people have taken advantage of early voting, more than double the 2012 total.
Now, chances are you have already made up your mind on who you would like to see move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But as you head to the polls Tuesday, don’t ignore the importance of voting local. There is a lot a stake in these elections — from the city council to the state legislature — and some races could be decided by only a few hundred votes.
At the bottom of this page, I have included some links to resources that may be useful for those of you who have not studied the local races or mapped out your polling place. The Med City Beat will be monitoring the key local races Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Keep an eye on our Facebook feed and website for final results.
Before I let you go, I want to leave you with this final thought. Our country is divided, our politics are nasty and our emotions are running high. But this is not the first time we have witnessed such disdain for each other’s convictions. Our republic has persevered through a revolution, civil war, depression, civil right’s movement and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Whether you’re voting for Trump or Clinton, live in the country or the city, identify as liberal or conservative, prefer steak or chicken, it is important to remember that we remain united by many of the same shared values and ideals. At the end of the day, the vast majority of us — on the left and the right — are casting our votes based on what we feel is best for our families, our communities and our country.
Let’s try to remind ourselves of that Wednesday morning.
Local election resources
(Cover graphic: The Med City Beat)