An Open Letter to the Girl who Didn’t Vote

So, you didn't vote. I don’t need to know why; everyone has their reasons. Not informed enough, didn’t know when the absentee ballot was due, boycotting the two-party system, car broke down on the way to the booths—the list goes on and on.  

Despite all the star-studded calls to action and Instagram ads, ABC exit polls show that the youth vote, that is, those from ages 18-29, made up 13% of the voters this, it’s surprisingly easy not to vote. That said, you may be starting to second guess your decision right about now.

We’re over a week out from November 6, and guys, history is being made. According to Time magazine, at least 90 women are expected to claim positions in Washington, D.C. in January. Data from ABC exit polls show that the youth accounted for 13% of the vote this year, compared to an 11% in 2016. And 3.3 million of us voted early, according to The Atlantic.

These are huge statistics, and those of us who didn't partake may begin to feel left out.

But I’m here to tell you that you’re still a part of this little slice of history. We’ve all seen the Facebook post that reads, “If you didn't vote in the election, you don’t get to say anything” But that’s not even close to true.

Your ideas, views, and opinions make up this democracy and you deserve to voice them. Let’s discuss some of the ways that you can still do your part and be proud of it.

 

Get Informed

If you want to be a part of the discourse, you do have to know what you’re saying. Read the news but get sources from left and right-leaning outlets. Form your own opinions; don’t regurgitate the ones you hear on television or the ones your parents have.

Knowing what’s actually going on can be hard to get keep straight—like what’s actually fake news? And it’s so tempting to listen to an SNL Weekend Update every week and just agree with everything Michael Che says, but if you’re not contributing your own well-informed opinions, you’re not really contributing.

 

Marches

Our power is in our numbers. If you believe in a cause and can make it to a march, do it! Marches are everywhere; join one right here in Greenville, head over to Asheville, make a day trip to Atlanta, or if you’re feeling bold, grab a group of ambitious guys and gals and head to D.C.! The gravity of seeing thousands of people standing together in the name of a cause is earth-shattering.

The power that we have together isn’t just manifested in the polls. It’s in hands held against police brutality, in fists raised in the fight for the protection of our youths, and in flags waved for the pride of every citizen, no matter their background or orientation. If you want to be a part of a movement, get out there and physically be a part of it.

 

The Daily Struggle

Locker room talk. Xenophobic implications. Misogynistic tendencies. All of these and more contribute to the social unrest that we have in our country right now. It may seem silly, but we’re all active citizens of this country, and our mentalities easily become a part of our country’s reality.

Often racism, xenophobia, and misogyny come from ignorance. You have the power to end the ignorance. Encourage your close friends and family to stay away from prejudice about others, even when it’s scary or hard to do.

Encourage others to look at those of different genders, races, and ethnicities as they truly are. If we can start now, walking to class, eating in the Pden, hanging out in the apartments, or wherever it may be, we can be the generation that ends ignorance. We can at least be the generation that tries.

 

Use Your Platform

Posts like the ones I mentioned earlier definitely rub some people the wrong way, and rightfully so if they’re accusatory and condescending, but you can write what you think on social media if you want to. I urge you, however, to do so tactfully. Just as you have your opinion, someone else has another.

As passionate as you are about yours, someone else is more passionate about theirs. Debates mediated by computer screens get nasty fast and can quickly be misconstrued.

That said, social media is one of the best ways to make your opinions known around your peers— and who knows, maybe even the legislators themselves will stumble across it! Social media gives us a lot of power in publishing our ideas, we just have to exercise responsibility as well.

 

Vote!

So, it didn't work out this time around. That’s okay. But there’s no denying it: the best way to make a difference is to vote for it! You’re going to stay informed. You’re going to stay involved. You’re going to have all the tools you need to confidently send in that absentee ballot or drive to the polls (as long as no flat tires get in your way this time).

November 6, 2018 is gone, but there’s always next midterm, next general election, or next local election. I don’t want to understate how important voting is, despite all the other avenues to make a difference. There’s no getting around how impactful voting is and how privileged we are to live in a country where our voices can make an impact. Never forget that!

 

I’m going to tell you right now: I didn't vote. Like I said, the reasons aren’t important. Even typing this here is nerve-racking, as I think of my civic duty and how I failed my fellow women. But it’s not over for me, and it’s not over for you, either.

Be present, be informed, and be brave. Our power is more than one day at the polls or one letter sent in the mail. It’s starting, people! Let’s do our part to keep it going.