2020 voters should stick around for future state, local elections

Opinion Contributor Mylan Hawkins talks about the importance of voting in not only the Presidential Election, but elections at the local and state levels as well.

While the US tends to emphasize the national election, state and local ones are also important for controlling the policies under which you live. (Unsplash)

This year has felt like no other, from the pandemic to racial injustice — yet when you think it couldn’t get any worse, you remember it’s an election year. It doesn’t seem that it’s been four years since Trump was elected into office, but here we are, much older and much wiser. Throughout the past four years Trump has been on the minds of citizens almost every day. Some people thought he wouldn’t be a good fit as president. Even I didn’t think he would make it to 100 days as president. Well, he did, and now the time has come to cast your ballots again. From the disputes about his involvement in Russia and possible interference in the 2016 election to the Brett Kavanagh case, Charlottesville, his impeachment hearings and now his ignorance during a worldwide pandemic, Trump has left me politically exhausted. This is my first time voting and while it felt important before it feels dire now.

I first registered to vote back in 2018 the day I turned 18. At that moment in my life I was taking a class in high school called “participation in government.” It was a class dedicated to educating students about the government, the laws and the levels of power from local to state to to national. It was around this time two years ago that my teacher spoke to all of us who were going to turn 18 before November. He called all of us to the front of the room and handed us a paper and said with a smug look on his face, “Here, do us all a favor and fill this out.” When I looked down and saw the voter registration form I knew what he meant. Around that time, my teacher had been going on a rant about how important it is to vote, whether it was presidential or local, and educating us on the different parties and their major beliefs. Specifically there was an election in New York that year, and subliminally he was telling us that we should do this paperwork and finally become more active citizens starting then. At the time, I did not think much of what he was saying and did not appreciate the effort. However, two years later and suffering through a pandemic, it is all starting to make sense to me now. 

Voting is a simple action that is meant to determine the inner workings of the local, state and national government, yet all that people seem to care about is the presidential one. I get it — we like things bigger in America, but when are we going to realize the sides are what make the meal complete? You can’t just vote for one thing and that somehow makes everything okay. For instance, when Thanksgiving comes around you’re not just excited about the turkey, ham or whatever the main meat is. You are also excited about the mac and cheese, the greens, the cornbread and the potato salad. So I ask, why are people not also emphasizing the importance of voting in every election? Voting for your representatives is important because when they go to Capitol Hill every day or weekend they are fighting for the people. How can you allow someone to make decisions for your county, district or state when their goals do not align with yours? It’s simple: go out and vote for what you believe in or what you want to change because not voting for what you believe in is the same as voting for what you don’t.

While I’m not going to disclose who I am voting for, you should just know that I am voting in this election. Even though it may not feel that we have a voice in this because there is the electoral college, the popular vote will still show the truth on who the American people want into the office and the beliefs that they hold. My voting station is at a community center close to my house and I can say that the turnout has been astonishing. I’ve lived at my house for five years now and I have never seen so many people on my street at any given time. Well, that and also parking on my street has been a little crazy since everyone is using it to go vote. I would complain, but people are doing what they are meant to do and I would never complain about that. With that being said I hope you all vote this year because whether you end up on the winning or losing ballot we all still have to coexist with each other and that means working together despite our differences.

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