My Vote, My Voice, Our History

In September, a Gallup poll found that only 26 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said they were certain to vote in the midterm elections, compared with 82 percent of those over 65. In the weeks that followed, Taylor Swift called on her fans to get engaged, and a massive #WalkOutToVote campaign targeted at teens launched with the help of youth-led organizations across the country.

Young voters could play a decisive role in the outcomes of today’s midterm elections, but only if we seize the opportunity and turn out to the polls.

John Keane / Creative Commons

As a young woman, I’m especially mindful of the fact that I wouldn’t have had the right to vote if I had been born 100 years ago—and I never want to take this hard-fought right for granted. My grandmother was born in 1920, the same year the 19th amendment was ratified. It’s hard for me to imagine living in an era where women did not have the right to vote, yet women have only had the right to vote for 98 years out of our nation’s 242-year history—and many women have had access to the ballot for even less time due to persistent racist attacks on voting rights.

One of the great dangers of living in a time of greater freedom is that it’s easy to take said freedom for granted, but when I think of the procession of women who went before me who tirelessly championed the right to vote—most of whom died without ever seeing the fruits of their labor—I am embarrassed that I would ever take their sacrifice lightly.

I believe we have a responsibility to vote for candidates who are moral, compassionate, honest and actually worthy of the highest offices in our land. We have a responsibility to vote for candidates who champion the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings. We have a responsibility to vote for candidates who affirm equality and are accountable to their constituents.

Democracy is too important for any of us to sit out this election. It’s the most important of our lifetime. We may not always get the outcome we are hoping for, but we must never grow weary of doing good and standing up for what is good and true and right. Equality is always on the ballot. Every election is an opportunity to advance and foster positive and lasting change.

I’m voting today to honor those who went before me and fought, tooth and nail, to ensure that I could. And I’m voting to make sure their vision of a more just and equal world gets a little closer to becoming a reality.

Rebekah Bell is a writer and filmmaker based in California. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun and Robb Report.

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