CHAARG The Vote: My Story On Working In Politics, Staying Informed, + The Importance Of Voting

2020 will be my first time ever voting in a presidential election, but I have been proudly casting my ballot in local elections since I turned 18 in 2017 — the first thing I did on my 18th birthday was register to vote. Voting is one of the simplest tasks you can do as a citizen + this year, with mail-in voting, the chance to have your voice heard at the polls is easier [+ safer] than ever. 

Regardless of your political views, my hope is that you all vote this November. It is so important for us to develop our own thoughts + practice our civil right. Educate yourself on your ballot [a great place to start is here] + remind your friends + family to vote. 18-23 year olds will account for 1 out of every 10 voters this November! There is more than just a presidential, there are key local races that greatly impact your everyday life — from deciding how much funding public universities receive to healthcare, climate change + so much more!

My junior year of high school was when I first really came to be aware of politics, + I have my 20th Century History teacher to thank for that. He always had us come to class up to date on what was happening in the news + it was the first time I really started to delve into developing my own views + doing my own research. Having to come to class everyday + really talk about what was going on in the world made me start to realize what I valued + why politics is so important.

I come from an upper middle class family, so it was easy for me to ignore politics for most of my life: decisions by politicians + our government did not affect my day-to-day life. On top of that, I went to a primarily white, affluent high school, where many people adopted the conservative views of their parents + once I started to develop my own views, I was really starting to see how privilege can allow us to be apathetic when it comes to issues here in America. If you inform yourself fully + afterwards still agree with those around you, that’s great, but I quickly found that that was not the case for me. It can honestly be scary to develop your own views, but it is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves + our community to be the best citizen we can be.

There is a lot out there + some things are a lot more biased [both conservatively + liberally] than others, so finding independent sources committed to the facts + holding our government fully accountable is what I aim for when searching for ways to educate myself. 

Finding how you like best to consume information is so important — it keeps you accountable in staying up to date + it gives you food for thought when making your choices on the ballot this November + beyond. 

My interest in politics evolved beyond voting in 2018, when Wisconsin had its gubernatorial election. I wanted to do more than just cast my ballot, I wanted to volunteer. This was the first time I got involved knocking doors + making phone calls to voters to ensure they had a plan to vote. If you’re really passionate about a candidate + a cause, consider volunteering. Although most campaigns are virtual due to COVID-19, you can make calls + send texts to voters from the comfort of your own home : ) Just look up a candidate or  your state’s Democratic or Republican party + you’ll be connected with a ton of opportunities!

In Spring 2019, I found an opportunity to do an internship through the Democratic National Committee + the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, where I was trained for 8 weeks to become a field organizer, someone who helps coordinate get out the vote efforts + volunteer teams in a local area. This is where I really leaned into my love for state-level politics: your local, state candidates are so important, so do your research!

After graduating in May 2020, I became a full-time field organizer with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to gear up for this November’s election. Although I have now left that position, this is a reminder that there are ways to get more involved if you do want to do more than just vote. Volunteering with your local organizer can make or break an election — we call that the field margin. In Michigan in 2016, for example, Hillary Clinton lost by just two votes per precinct, that means if we can all encourage just two friends to vote alongside us, we have a chance to greatly impact the outcome of this November’s election, no matter who you are supporting. Never doubt that your voice matters + encouraging others to do the same matters, too.

Take, for instance, the nationwide poll worker shortage happening amid the pandemic. If you feel comfortable, consider becoming a poll worker! In the past, this has often fell onto older populations to fill this role, but with the threat of COVID-19 for our most vulnerable populations, we, as young people, if we are able to, can step up + do the work [+ fun fact: you get paid to do it!]. You can get in touch with your local municipality to find out how to sign up.

The last thing I’ll say is that voting is a cornerstone of our democracy. We all have to step up + participate this November. No matter who you are supporting, make your plan to vote, request your absentee ballot + be the change you want to see in this nation. 

Our work will not magically end on November 3. After that, we must continue to hold our elected officials accountable to what needs to change to create better communities for every single person in this country. Voting is just the first step, but it is the most important first step to ensuring we take control of our future.

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