Posted by: Jamie Hahn | November 1, 2010

6 Reasons to “Get Rad and Vote”

I learned the definition of apathy in 7th grade. My U.S. History teacher warned us that the highest form of apathy, in her book, was to take for granted your privilege to vote. I was twelve, and government was some abstract entity that was perfectly conceived by our all-knowing Forefathers and acceptably executed by wise and well-meaning government officials. My comfortable upper-middle class upbringing did nothing to disabuse me of these assumptions. I had a TV to plug my Nintendo into and a soccer field to play on. What else does a twelve year old need? 

Over the last 20 years, I’ve done my share of voting — mostly in the big Presidential elections. I may be a member of Generation X, but I’m not a complete slacker. Ironically, I never saw the importance of voting in other elections, especially local ones. So, maybe I am a slacker. But I’ve turned over a new leaf, and so can you. In case you need some convincing, here are 6 reasons you should vote:

1) Not everyone has the right to vote in a fairly counted election. Hanging chads aside, the US has a pretty decent and fair election process. At least I know that I won’t be harassed as I walk to my polling station (if I even know where it is), and that my vote will be counted as I cast it. Recent election disasters in Kenya and Afghanistan remind us that we’re lucky.

2) People fought for my right to vote. Women have had the right to vote in the U.S. for less than 100 years. Prior to 1920, they were fighting for women’s right to vote, not for our right to take it for granted. As a woman, I feel deeply grateful to everyone who fought for my right to vote, and I often think that exercising that right is some small form of repayment for all of their struggles.

3) Your vote does count! When I haven’t voted, I’ve often told myself that my vote would have been just one in a sea of thousands, so no one would miss it. Imagine if everyone used this line of thinking. One vote means everything, and without your vote our election process is that much weaker. Whatever your political leanings, please stand up and be counted.

4) You’ll be more infomed. Thoughtful voting takes effort. Anyone can stand in a voting booth and check the boxes, but it takes time to truly understand the candidates and issues. Listen to debates, check out candidates’ websites, read endorsements and opinions, talk with your friends, and ignore negative political ads. This goes for the national elections as well as your local community elections. You can’t come away from this process without being more informed than when you started, and information is power.

5) Support local-ness. Supporting local businesses and initiatives is all the rage these days. And for a reason! Everything starts with your local community. Take some time to understand the issues that are facing your community as well as the work of your state and local government representatives. Find out what your taxes are funding. You might not like what you find out. And if you don’t, vote to change it.

6) “I voted” Foursquare badge. Just in case you weren’t convinced, Foursquare has created an “I voted” badge for anyone who checks in at a polling station. Yes, we’re all badge-motivated. Get yours!

Election day is tomorrow, and you still have time to do some research, find your polling station, and VOTE! In case you need a slogan to get you motivated, I’ve borrowed one from my friend, Kriste, a fellow Generation X-er with a strong sense of commuity and citizenship: “Get rad and vote.” Need I say more?



  1. hooray!

    local elections are more interesting and important to me than national. i’m fortunate (rad?) to live in a small state where i know personally many of the people for whom i’m voting.

    here’s an example of the importance and power of local elected folks. several years back, when portland, oregon started allowing gay marriages, my small oregon county was considering it as well. that’s a decision made by county commissioners. after being given legal advice against allowing gay marriages, one of the county commissioners (up for re-election tomorrow and since oregon is all vote-by-mail, i’ve already voted for her) came up with what i think was an elegant response – the county stopped issuing marriage licenses to anyone. the commissioners explained that because there was such a fuzzy line, they’d err on the side of caution and not allow anyone a marriage license. it was a gesture, for sure – straight couples could zip on over to the next county over and get a license – but it was a gesture that made national headlines and made people think. it makes me proud to vote for her. and proud that she greets me by my first name when i bump into her downtown.

    thanks for this post, and for greeting me by my first name in it.

  2. Great post! Kriste, I love this story about your county in Oregon. I think that should happen nationwide. Jamie, thanks for the reminder to be involved – it is too easy to rationalize and justify laziness!

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by kD DeShane, Jamie Hahn. Jamie Hahn said: An awesome sticker and a sense of pride. Need more reasons to vote today? #ivoted […]

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