The Voting Series: 10 Ways to Overcome Reasons/Excuses to Not Vote

Written by: Lillybit



Hey Guys, this week I have a special guest feature post from my girl Lillybit! Lillybit is a typical American citizen of the Black diaspora living in Maryland. She has recently been compelled to research ways to become more active in her local community during this crazy year of 2020 and wants to bring others along for the journey. A big fan of Issa’s “Insecure” and Ethiopian food, when she is not researching American history and local governments, she is studying languages and reading works by Black sci-fi authors.

As you all may know, voting and educating people on the importance of voting is another issue that I am passionate about. It also happens to be a passion for Lillybit who was generous enough to write this post "Black Folk & Voting" (Part 1 of 2). Hopefully, you all will enjoy, while learning in the process.😀

        The time of voting for our next President is coming around the corner. Some of us are still in disbelief at the past 4 years and the emotional rollercoaster that people of color have experienced in regards to how we are acknowledged by our President and what he hasn’t done for us. Many almost feel a sense of hopelessness that things are not going to change. We look for justice and reform with regards to police brutality. We have anxieties about the job market. We question the state of our nation and what the future of our nation will look like with COVID-19 creeping around every corner. (Oh and yes Kanye West said he wanted to run for President.) A question that a little over more than 1/3 of the black population has is “What good will come from us voting?”

        Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Black folk don’t vote. Because that is simply not true. We vote.

Ray and Whitlock from Brookings.edu told us “While whites traditionally have the highest voter turnout relative to other racial groups, Blacks have higher voter turnout than Hispanics and Asians. In fact, Black voter turnout was within 1 percentage point of whites in 2008 (65.2% compared to 66.1%) and was actually higher than whites in 2012 (66.6% compared to 64.1%). In 2016, voter turnout for Blacks dipped to 59.6%. While that number was lower than whites (65.3%), it was still higher than Asians (49.3%) and Hispanics (47.6%).”



        But what is happening with that other almost 30% of black voters and black population in general? Well, in addition to things called gerrymandering, voter disenfranchisement, and voter suppression (which we will talk about to a greater extent in Part 2), I will talk to you about the excuses and reasons that are often heard for why people don’t vote and why they are not strong reasons. I do this in the hope that you value your right to vote as an American citizen and to go a step further and think about putting more effort into your local community and not only vote for the President, but participate in the voting process at the levels that are closest to you.



So here we go, the 10 excuses/reasons for why folk don’t want to vote:

1. Young people say that many of the issues they care about — climate change, civil rights, the war on drugs, immigration, prison reform — are not discussed by Democrats or Republicans.

Candidates are talking about these issues. If you feel they aren’t talking about them enough, then create spaces to have discussions with people about the issues you want to see more change on and why those issues should be addressed in your local government and community. It doesn’t always have to be about just voting for the President of the United States. What about voting for your district representative in your local or state government who works to ensure those issues are looked at in your immediate city or township?

2. There is no faith in the candidates to accomplish anything because of the system.

If that’s true, then examine why they aren’t able to accomplish anything. Have you held your elected leaders accountable to the jobs that they are doing? What if the candidate is accomplishing exactly what the person who voted for them wanted for them to do? Wouldn’t it be great if your representative worked for you in the same way? How do you get a person in there who works for you? Go a step further than voting. Also, try campaigning for the person you want to see in the position and educating those you know on the candidate.

3. By me not voting, I’m exercising my right to do so.

Yes, you are exercising this right but this act could be working against your best interests. If you would take time to learn about the issues that matter to you and identify the change you want to see with candidates at the local city/state level of your government, you will be able to enact more change. Moreover, that change will outweigh the benefit to you of exercising the right to not vote.

4. I don’t want to have to vote the lesser of two evils. I’m ultimately voting for an ‘evil’.

But by not voting, your vote may support a pretty harsh evil in itself – not doing anything. If you believe that evil is all around, then would you not intervene in the process to help yourself and the fellow citizens in your society? If you feel that evil exists, then what are you doing to combat those evils? For example, if you have a stance on prison reform, then are you active in a non-profit org in your community that works to make that change? Are you working to educate people in your community about this situation and possible solutions they could get behind?

5. Voter Suppression Tactics (need Voter ID, inconvenient voter locations, confusion on how to register to vote)

If you feel voter suppression tactics are the reason for why you don’t vote, then take a step to overcome them. Ask someone to be your “civic duty”-buddy. You both can figure out the issue for why it’s so challenging for you to vote. For example, let’s say that your polling station is pretty far from where you live. Why not see if a friend or your “civic duty”-buddy could possibly drive you to the polls. They could help you figure out where to vote and find someone to help you register to vote. By the way, www.vote.org is an awesome site.



6. I don’t know enough about the candidates and their policies

Then, take the time to read and do your research?! Make a plan with some friends, aunties, and/or uncles to research candidates or, at the base root of it all, what is important to you in a society and what candidate does best in meeting your needs. Some people would argue that I should let you off the hook with this excuse but - no - you’re not off the hook in my book. There is a higher chance of accomplishment for a goal when you work with others. Not sure where to get started, check out BallotReady. They aggregate content from candidates’ websites, social media, press, endorsers and board of elections for comprehensive, nonpartisan information about the candidates and referendums on your ballot.

7. It’s on a Tuesday! (…I can’t get off work)

Look into Absentee mail-in voting in your state and don’t wait until the last minute to do this. If you call either the Democrat or Republican campaigning group in your neighborhood, they most certainly will find a way for you to vote. Those groups are pretty good about getting people to the polls to vote.

8. My vote doesn’t matter (My state has been the same color for years)

Yes, it does! There are states that turn (political party) color even though they have been for one political party color for a long time. The numbers of those in the opposing party are still looked at in the long-term when deciding if a candidate could possibly have a chance in turning the color of that state during the next election.

9. I am sick and/or disabled


Again, Absentee mail-in voting, phone a friend, or contact your local political organization and schedule them to possibly take you to the polls. Ask even if they aren’t your political party.

10. The electoral college


The vote in the electoral college comes 99.9% of the time from the popular vote for that state in the Presidential Election as it is supposed to. Yes, there are some faithless electors who don’t vote in reflection with the popular vote but this rarely happens and should not, in my opinion, deter one from going out to vote.

Extra one: Traffic / long lines

I say to you again consider Absentee mail-in ballots. If you already know who you want to vote for and you see that candidate advocating for changes in what you want to see, then send that ballot in the mail.

        

So there it is. I hope that with what you have just read, you are:
  • Moved to register to vote before the due dates in your area,
  • Moved to not only vote the traditional in-person way but to look at the mail-in ballot, 
  • Inclined to think about how you can exercise your civic duty in other ways, and 
  • Motivated to look at the community around you to make the changes you want to see.
        In Part 2, I will explain the history of voting and put a special focus on the importance of local government participation. Because it’s not just about who wins the national Presidency, but also knowing what is happening and what you are doing in your own community to make the changes you want to see.

*Event Notice*
If you are interested in having a discussion about voting and the Black community. Check out this upcoming Zoom Event

Group: Soulful Sundays Women’s Meetup
Event: “Women of Color, Why should we even vote?”
When: Sunday, July 19th 2020 @ 11am EDT
Link: https://www.meetup.com/SoulfulSundays/


*Helpful Links*

Voting Websites
1. https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/voting-rights/ A great website that helps citizens learn more about how to exercise their voting rights, resist voter intimidation efforts, and access disability-related accommodations and language assistance at the polls.

2. https://www.usa.gov/voting A government sponsored website used to assist citizens who want to vote.

3. https://vote.gov/ A government sponsored website to assist citizens who want to vote.

4. https://www.vote.org/ A non-profit website used to help inform users about voting.

Comments

  1. Love this post! It is so important to get out there and vote! I would actually like to further discuss point number 4 about voting for the "lesser of two evils". I have a bit of an unpopular opinion on this topic. I think people should exercise their right to vote third party more often. A lot of people call this a "wasted vote" but ultimately if enough people did this then we would move away from this whole "us" vs "them" mentality. I think its ridiculous that we don't even give third party candidates (or even the less popular candidates from the main parties) equal air time on TV! And we wonder why America has become so polarized!

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  2. I totally agree Kat, the system is set-up to make it an "us" vs "them" situation which is not at all helpful. I feel that until people start to get more involved in politics and learn that they can participate in more than just the voting process (i.e. attending town-halls or city council meetings, volunteering for campaigns, participating in community outreach, educating others on the voting process, or even running for office) not much will change. However, I think when people realize they have more power in this process than checking a box on a ballot maybe we can start to actually see change in our political system.

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  3. This is so important! Going out to vote is something that does make a difference, if it didn’t then certain political groups would not work so hard to try and suppress it. Fantastic post!

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    Replies
    1. Exactly Molly, I couldn't agree more! Part 2 is coming tomorrow so be sure to stop back through. Thanks for the comment!

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  4. Thanks for sharing this with us! Everyone over 18 in this country should be registered to vote! We hear these excuses a lot and love your answers. We hope this encourages some people to stay informed and vote early.

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