Karen’s Blog: Your Right to Vote

By Dr. Karen D. Johnson

My favorite President has always been Abraham Lincoln. When I lived in Chicago, I gave tours of the Lincoln exhibit at the history museum, visited his home and museum in Springfield, and read all the books about him I could find. He had a lot of great quotes, but one of his best was: “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision.”

We are lucky in America to have the right to vote once we reach the age of 18 years and complete the voter registration process. Many people who live in other countries do not have that right. People throughout our history have fought for the right to vote. Unfortunately, the percentage of citizens who actually do vote in elections is often disappointing. The 2020 presidential election, however, had the highest turnout of the 21st century, with 66.8% of citizens aged 18 years and older voting (according to the U.S. Census Bureau).

The habit of voting starts at a young age. I remember an assignment in my senior year of high school that asked us to register to vote. I have voted in every election since then—sometimes in person, sometimes by absentee ballot, and sometimes by mail ballot. I have not always been excited by my choices, but I always felt the responsibility to make a decision and cast a vote.

Someone once reminded me that, “if you don’t bother to vote, you can’t really complain about your government.” With many close elections over the years, it is true that every vote counts. So, educate yourself about the candidates and the issues. Read their websites and turn to trusted third-party or news sources as well. Platforms and positions on the issues that face our community matter. Think about who you want to represent you at the local level, in the state legislature, and in Washington DC.

In our democracy, one of the most important actions you can take to make your voice heard is to vote. It is safe, free, and secure to do so, and it is your right and responsibility as a citizen of this country. Election day is Tuesday, November 8, 2022. Vote!