Monday, September 20, 2010

Make Your Voice Heard, Steer America’s Future, and Create History: Vote.

I voted.

He votado.

我投票。

لقد صوت.

Ich habe.

J'ai voté.

Ψήφισα.

Jeg har stemt.

הצבעתי.

Ho votato.

난 투표.

من رای دادند.

Ek het gestem.

Я голосовал.

Please excuse my Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, German, French, Greek, Danish, Hebrew, Italian, Korean, Persian, Afrikaans, and Russian. While I will admit that I am far from being a linguistic expert – I used Google translator to translate "I voted" into all of these different languages from all over the world, and therefore they may not be perfect translations – I am amazed by the fact that so many languages have their own way of talking about voting. Even languages from countries that do not exercise universal suffrage, or the right to vote for all qualifying citizens, in the way that democratic countries do, have ways to talk about and write about voting.


You see, voting is an ancient practice, dating all the way back pre-Roman Empire to at least Ancient Greece, and though its popularity and practice has varied in different countries throughout the centuries, it has always been a part of global society in some way. Today, it is a prominent fixture of national and international society and culture and it stands as a strong institute thanks to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the 15th and 19th Amendments, The National Democratic Institute, The International Foundation for Electoral Systems, The International Republican Institute, The United Nations, The Universal Declaration on Democracy, and many other organizations and pieces of legislation worldwide.

In school, I've learned that we determine the meaning of words or messages “intrapersonally”, or internally, based on thoughts and feelings we attached to the words in our mind which we've developed from things we've learned, seen, heard, and experienced. So, I got to thinking, and voting is definitely one of those words that means so many different things to so many different people based on their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences about it.

For me, voting is a passage into adult-hood. It is a coming-of-age privilege that, after some reflection, I have realized that I take for granted. After all, if I had been born about 100 years earlier, I would not have the right to vote when I turned 18 years old. I would have no voice in the running of the government which determines so many aspects of life. Fortunately, I turned 18 this year, and not before the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920 which granted the right to vote to all Americans, regardless of gender, so I get to vote in my state's Primary Election today!

Unfortunately, so many people in our world do not have this right or their right to vote is restricted. To them, voting, or being able to confidently voice their honest opinion in the running of their government, may seem idealistic and even impossible. For years, our country has worked to give people around the world a chance to have a voice through democracy and, though many people disagree about whether or not this is right or effective, the mere fact that we have the right to openly agree or disagree is one of the rights that democracy has afforded us.

Further, if we do disagree with methodology or ideology of our government, voting and democracy give us the ability to not only voice our opinions, but to do something about them. We are able to help determine who runs our country, which ideology, methodology, and policies will represent the United States of America. We can even to run for and hold office ourselves and make local, national, or even foreign policy. Whether we agree that all countries should be democratic and have universal suffrage or not, I am sure that very few Americans, if any, would be willing to personally give up America's democratic system or the right to vote.

So aside from all of the politics, thoughts, and feelings about voting, what exactly is it? Voting is basically a formal opinion or decision between two or more alternatives on any topic or issue. Today, in the Maryland State Primary Election, I will be voting on my own personal opinion about who will best represent me and the state of Maryland.


As for who I have chosen to cast votes for, it's a secret! Part of the reason that democracy and voting do work is confidentiality, that is, we are able to make our own decision about who or what to vote in favor of or against without anyone else knowing who or what we casted our vote for. Therefore, we are able to make the most unbiased decision possible based on our own personal beliefs.

So, I encourage you to do some research about the candidates and initiatives that you have the opportunity to vote on and make your own voice heard. If you are not registered to vote, it is so easy to do. I registered without even venturing farther away from my home than the mailbox!

To register, go to http://www.eac.gov/voter_resources/register_to_vote.aspx to fill out and print your registration form, then mail it in to your state voting office- or just visit your state voting office in person! This non-partisan government website also has valuable information for voters like election calendars, voting guides, instructions for voting abroad, and many more resources so you should check it out, even if you are already a registered voter!


As President Eisenhower said, "The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter." So what are you waiting for? Register, research, and vote! Make your voice heard and help shape the future of our country. And remember that no single vote is insignificant. If everyone thought, "My vote won’t matter anyway", no one would vote and our country would have no direction. So exercise your right to vote and have an impact on the future of the strongest country in the world knowing that your vote is valuable and that you are lucky to be able to safely and openly voice your opinion by voting.

Juliana McKee

P.S. Sorry for the lecture, I'm a bit of a history buff =)

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