You Have a Voice, NJ, So Use It!

voteGeorge Jean Nathan said, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don’t vote.”

I like to think that I live in a country where people appreciate their right to vote and see it as a way to voice their opinions and make change. I knew voting rates weren’t great, but was shocked to discover that the U.S. had the ninth-lowest voting rate among the 35 countries in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.) And for everyone complaining about who is on the ballot, maybe you should have taken the primaries a little more seriously. I’d heard the turnout for the 2016 primary season was high and then looked it up to discover that “high” is 28.5%. If the folks complaining wished for different candidates on the ballot, they might have taken the 5 minutes to vote in the primary. It goes to show you how much we take it for granted.

Here are some stats that might get you to the polls:

• In 1960, presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, Kennedy won the race by 0.1 percent-the closest presidential election in U.S. history in terms of the popular vote and the electoral college votes. That’s scary close! That’s the kind of close where if the candidate you wanted to win…won, you’d be sweating thinking, “What if I hadn’t voted?!” And you’d be kicking yourself for 4 years if the candidate that you didn’t want to win did…while you stayed at home, ate pizza and watched it unfold on tv.

• Highest U.S. turnout for a presidential election since 1968? 2008–and 4 in 10 Americans stayed home!

• In 2012, only a little more than half the country voted–57.5% to be exact.  

Many people have been frustrated and disheartened by some of the ugliness that they’ve witnessed during this election season. A feeling of disgust quickly turns to apathy and I’ve heard a few folks say, “What’s the point of voting at all?” There are so many people around the world are fighting for the right to vote or who are intimidated and silently suffering. And actually, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that long ago when women and African Americans were denied this privilege. Ladies, imagine what your great-grandmothers would think if they knew that you’d decided not to vote this year. We instill in our children that their voices matter and that they can make a difference. So practice what you preach.

If you have a friend or a relative who has lived in a place where they could not vote, and have had a chance to hear their story and listen to what it means to live in our country, you begin to appreciate that voting is not only a privilege; it’s our duty. This is our government and our politics and with our freedom comes the responsibility to vote.

Tonight was family movie night and finally, my kids were old enough to watch Spider Man. Not quite as big a moment as our first family night with Stars Wars, but still exciting. One scene resonated with me. Peter Parker (aka Spider Man) received some last words of advice from his uncle: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

 

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Author: Heather Zachariah

Former Art Director for Home Magazine, Heather Leahy Zachariah, left her career in publishing after baby number number one. She now works from home as a freelance graphic designer and a chauffeur to her 3 busy kids. "Working on TipsFromTown has been a wonderful outlet for me. It renewed my love of publishing where I can design colorful, enticing pages online and allows me to share the things I love about being a mom." Heather grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a place that still is near and dear to her. " After living in Brooklyn for 18 years and studying Graphic Design at Pratt Institute, she now lives in the Jersey burbs. "I love living so close to NYC, but in my heart, I'm an Ohio girl."

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