By: Johnny Hollowell
Since retiring from the Coast Guard, I have served as a Deputy Registrar and Election Precinct Judge on numerous occasions. One question that seems to always surface at one time or another is, “why vote, my vote won’t count anyway?”
Well, there are a number of reasons to vote, some historical and some contemporary.
First and foremost, many Americans, particularly immigrants and people of color, were denied the right to vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As our forefathers, many of those denied the right to vote, made the ultimate sacrifice so that those of us who would come behind them could vote. My grandmother, born in the late 1800’s, and the daughter of slaves, treasured her Voter Registration Card as if it were a marquise diamond until her death in 1971. When my two brothers and I turned eighteen, one of the first things my mother did was to take us to register to vote. Likewise, as my daughters reached eighteen, I too took them to register to vote.
During the State Redistricting debate after the 2000 census, you may have heard the phrase, “One person, One vote”, where the Supreme Court held in a 1964 ruling that state political districts of unequal size resulted in under-representation of some citizens’ interests and over-representation of others. While improper implementation of that ruling by Texas resulted in one prominent Texas Congressional Representative losing his seat, Texas was not required to redraw its redistricting map. In recent years, there have been a number of states trying to implement Voter Identification laws that would require photo identification in addition to the Voter Registration Card. In fact, Texas was successful in implementing such a law, but it was recently struck down by the Supreme Court leading up to the general election this November.
Like it or not, elected officials, including judges who are appointed by elected officials, are making decisions that affect your life in one way or another.
To bring about change regarding an issue that you feel is unjust you must make your voice known through your vote. Here’s another way of looking at it.
Did you know that your decision not to vote is a vote nonetheless?
By not exercising your right to vote for the person or referendum you feel will best represent your interests, you enhance the power of the vote of those who do vote, but do not share your interests. Contrary to popular belief, many political races and referendums, particularly at the local and state level are determined by single and double digit votes, meaning that yes, your vote does make a difference. In addition to the Voter Identification laws, in recent years, there have been a number of hotly contested issues affecting our lifestyles, including education funding, healthcare, union-busting and taxation.
As citizens, whether a particular issue affects you directly, in most cases, you know someone who is affected. Let your voice be heard. Vote!
Johnny Hollowell is a retired Coast Guard Commander, and a licensed Texas Real Estate Salesperson and Realtor.