I can’t stress enough the importance of voting. Recent elections have shown us that deciding factors can be really close and sometimes a few extra votes can swing things wildly. How we decide to vote, as a people can vastly change how next four years. For the LGBTQ community, much of the stage for how our rights may be affected hinge on these elections. Many more communities and states are offering up ordinances for the protection of job status for the LGBTQ people and our votes will greatly impact those decisions. Healthcare is an ever-increasing battle that platforms are built on and those decisions can greatly affect our transgender brothers and sisters. Ohio has its primary coming up March 17th, which coincides with St. Patrick’s Day.
Primaries are the process where voters can cast their preferences for their party’s candidate or, simply, candidates in general. It is designed to help narrow the field of candidates based on voter’s lists of priorities. There are two types of primaries, an open primary is one where the general public can cast their votes for their preferred candidates. This is what we are having in Cleveland on March 17th. There is also a closed primary, this is where members of a political party cast their votes on their preferred choices. Primaries are also a time when local governments will have ballot items that residents can vote on, so be sure you are familiar with them, as well as the candidates.
Please make sure you exercise your right to be heard. No matter how you choose to vote, just do it. We live in a word where the very people who run it are trying to pass legislature that will take away basic rights of every individual. They will decide what you can do with your body, what options you have in healthcare or lack thereof, how laws will affect you in the future. They will be passing legislature on environmental, trade, and military policies. Look at each and every item on the ballot for your area and think how you feel about them. If you are unsure of the wording seek help.
If you are unsure about local issues or even there candidates running for office and their stances, you have resources. VoteOhio.gov is your one stop shop for registering to vote, verifying that you are in the voter rolls, where to vote, and what issues are effecting you, locally. Want to know more about the candidates running for president, check out BallotPedia. Here you can select the candidate and find out their stances on issues that are important to you. It is always beneficial to look at all their views. Remember, just because they currently do not support that’s important to you doesn’t mean that it will not affect you. After all, there is a famous quote for a German Lutheran pastor that says, ” First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.” It’s a powerful statement that talked about the rise of Nazi power and we see it echoed today just as strongly as it was then. Remember your vote carries power and it is there to speak for you in places where your voice cannot be heard. Do let it be silenced.
It is important that each of us get the opportunity to exercise our rights to vote. If you are heading to the polls, take someone along with you. Go as a group and make an event of it. Become educated on the issues so you know how and what may affect you. Let your voice be heard. Remember Thomas Jefferson once said, “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” Don’t let this administration that is so keen to publicly spouse hate rhetoric be the only voice that is heard. It is time we speak out, in unison, to let the government know that we are here, and we need to be heard.