Sandra Benedetto: I vote because I can. When someone asks, “Do you want to have a say in what we’re doing?” about something that affects so many aspects of life, my answer will always be “Yes.” It surprises me that so many people say “No, thanks, I’m good,” because in general people love to be asked their opinion. I don’t know about you, but I like to click on Twitter polls. I feel good knowing that I helped tip the scales on divisive issues like hot tubs (ewwww or awww yeahhhhh?). Sure, it would have been great to have a third option, such as it depends on who’s in it. But guess what? Sometimes there are only two imperfect choices. Suck it up and pick the one that’s better than the other. As appealing as they are, when hot tubs are beholden to the NRA and would restrict affordable access to healthcare and want to legislate women’s bodies and only want to let wealthy white guys in, it’s not a place I want to soak in.
Whichever party’s values you align with, why pass up an opportunity to make an official, anonymous declaration of your opinion? It’s like filling out the comment card at a hotel, except easier because it’s multiple choice, and the chances of getting bed bugs at a polling place are very slim. You want better service next time? I sure as hell do. Get out there and VOTE!
Elizabeth Gomez: I vote because I’m a queer American woman of color born from an immigrant single blue collar mother. Not only that, but I am also a middle class public servant raising two girls in the Chicago public school system. It is my right and my privilege to participate in our democratic system. While I have LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of complaints about our two party system, there is no question that our politics affect our daily life, especially for me on the local level in Chicago.
There is not much I can do to reach the top powers like the President, but I need to know that I tried. That I gave some effort for positive and strong leadership for our country. I want to have a say about our laws, drawing boundaries of government power, and where our tax money is spent. Currently, we can see how a President’s image and personal thinking can trickle down into the attitudes of our citizens and how other countries see us. I also am a strong loud advocate for voting in local elections because honestly that’s where the power lies.
I vote because I want to be heard.
Beth Dugan: I vote because I love this country. I love its flawed mess and its ridiculous two party system (not really but you know what I mean) and I love learning the stories of what got us here and hearing the plans to fix it. I want to participate fully in the democracy I was lucky enough to be born into and that I have not had to take up arms to defend. I want that democracy to continue far beyond my lifetime. I have voted in every election held in my country, state, county, and town since I turned 18. I cried when I voted in my first Presidential election. I cried the first time I voted for a female presidential candidate. I usually get weepy in line to vote because we are so privileged to live in a place where we get to grumble and go and stand in line under harsh lighting and cast our vote for who is going to represent us and our interests in our government. And as a woman I am very lucky to be able to do that, and I will never take it for granted. For some people this election, just like elections that came before, are a matter of life and death. Go vote!
Jeff Phillips: We all know people who make statements like “all politicians are the same anyway” or “it’s just the lesser of two evils.” I’m going to blunt: that’s lazy-ass thinking. If the 2016 presidential election has taught us anything: politicians aren’t all the same. If we don’t exercise this simple right, the most rancid of two evils can slip into a position of authority. It may feel like you’re only one person, and what’s your one vote really going to accomplish? The danger is: when your absence from the polls is tallied up with everyone else who caved to the same easy out, then we find there’s a giant margin, one that could’ve swayed the results toward some semblance of decency. For much of human history, leadership was determined not by democratic elections, but by savage might, or bloodline. We are lucky, and if we don’t continue to embrace it, then we could very well lose it. There are already some states that are making it harder to vote; see Georgia, Alabama, North Dakota, Florida. The privileged opinionated who believe voting is a waste of time because they once read an article about how the Bilderberg Group secretly controls the world, should trade places with anyone unfairly purged from the polls. Think of voting as civic hygiene. If you have food stuck in your teeth, you floss. If you don’t like an elected official, vote them out. Maybe it does come down to the lesser of two evils, but if given a choice, hell yeah, I would rather give power to the lesser of two evils.
Kim Nelson: There’s something about seeing a group of people rise up en masse that makes me tear up. When the cast of Les Mis slowly begin to join in on “Do You Hear the People Sing?”, my eyes well. When Buffy Summers and her fellow graduating classmates of Sunnydale High throw off their caps and gowns, united in their quest to take down the transmogrified villainous Mayor, I feel rivulets rush down my cheeks. And when I marched down the streets of Washington D.C. on January 21, 2017 with hundreds of thousands of people, I felt my heart burst with emotion. Individually, we are small and we fight to be heard. But together, we can take down the corrupt, the incompetent, the inept, and the dangerous. I may not be a vampire slayer, but in the voting booth, I wield the strongest weapon I have: my voice. And if mainstays of power weren’t so scared of our collective voices, they wouldn’t be trying so hard to to take our voices away. I will never take my voice for granted, and that’s why I’ve voted in every election since I turned 18.
I mean, if anything, do it for the Instagram post of your “I Voted” sticker, because voting is super sexy.
David Jester: When I walk into that middle school gymnasium, the harsh, high pressure sodium lights hanging overhead, memories are evoked, bringing me back to my miserable years as an awkward preteen. There is nothing more motivational than being reminded about the bullies that taunted me through school, because I was a pudgy youth. Because I was awkward. Because I was naive. Because I wasn’t macho enough. Because I wasn’t status quo. Because there are cruel people in this world who receive enjoyment by tormenting others. I remind myself that my vote can prevent a person from bullying others again. I remember how that felt, to be tormented, but worst of all, to watch others be teased and abused, and having no way to stop them; feeling powerless and out of control. Life lesson: cruel things happen. But we can stand up to the cruelties of our society. I vote because I refuse to be bullied as an adult. There are so many injustices incurred upon vulnerable populations, that apathy only furthers their abuse. The most apathetic thing I could do is not vote.
Although my youthful distress pales in comparison to what portions of our population deal with today, I am reminded of feeling helpless, feeling that no one cares, that there is little hope of salvation. There is hope, I vote to fight for our rights. I vote to ensure everybody has the same opportunities and rights I do as a white male in our screwed up society. I vote so we may lay the foundation for a better future. My candidate may not win every time, but unlike the kid that didn’t know how to fight back, or was too afraid too, I stand up for what I believe and battle in the ways I can.
Anita Mechler: I vote because my mama taught me to. As early as I can remember, she would bring me into the voting booth and once she had made her decision, she’d let me pull the metal lever with a definitive “clunk.” It gave me immense satisfaction and instilled in me a sense of civic pride and duty. I was thrilled when I turned 18, so that I could vote in every local and national election available to me. I vote in honor of our ancestors who fought and died for the right to do so. I vote for those who have been silenced, for the undocumented, for those who can’t. I vote because I want to chart the course of my destiny in this country and positively contribute to the future for next generations. I vote because I abhor fascism, racism, classism, totalitarianism, sexism, transphobia, Anti-Semitism, white supremacy, otherism. I vote because I should and because I can.