Friday, May 24, 2024

Comentarios From Maria: On November 4th, Everyone to the Polls

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How many times have we heard our friends and families say “I am not going to vote this year,” or “why should I vote if my vote does not count?” This way of thinking is not only unfortunate but dangerous because we have already witnessed elections that are determined by the very last votes.

One of the best examples I can think of is the 2000 presidential election between Vice President Al Gore and former Texas Governor George W. Bush. As you might recall, the state of Florida was one of the most contested states and in the end Bush won Florida and its 25 electoral votes by a mere 537 votes. That’s right, 537 votes were the difference between eight years of Bush versus eight years of Al Gore. So whenever someone tells you that their vote doesn’t count, remember that number, 537.

We are living through very difficult times and the majority of the country is frustrated by our Republican Congress that continues to sabotage any measure President Obama proposes, yet there are two sides of the same coin, and many are frustrated with President Obama’s inaction regarding immigration reform. However, this should not be a reason to abandon the polls on November 4th.

As a community, we have to demonstrate what we are capable of when we vote in strong numbers, united, for a better future. Regardless of your politics; if you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Socialist, Communist, what matters is that you stay informed and get out to vote. Your vote is your voice.

Recently, many Latino activists who long for immigration reform have urged the community to stay home during the upcoming elections. That is a huge mistake and those advocating for voters to stay home should not only cease their irresponsible request but should be ashamed of themselves.

Many of us, who are immigrants, and come from countries where the value of voting is nonexistent or disrespected, take this right and duty for granted.

These activists should be embarrassed for suggesting such a deplorable act, given how hard we have fought to guarantee everyone’s right to vote in our communities and there are still places around the country where our community is still being disfranchised.

I have faith that President Obama will issue an executive action after the November elections. Yet we cannot afford to waste our votes only because a select few decided to throw a tantrum when they did not get their way. What we should do, is use this negative energy and channel into a positive end and instill the importance of voting among our friends and families.

If our community votes in the numbers that we are capable of, Republicans would not turn their backs on us so easily, immigration reform would be a reality today, and the president would not feel obligated to enact a temporary solution instead of a permanent one.

Friends, I would like to leave you with a challenge: if you are not registered to vote, register, and if you are registered, help 20 of your friends or family register. Organizations such as Voto Latino, Dominicanos USA, Mi Familia Vota, Univision y Rock the Vote, among others, have united to register voters and assure that our community votes this November. The future of this country is in our hands. We can do it!

This piece originally appeared in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic