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Why It’s So Important to Vote

If prayer is our greatest exercise of faith, the vote is our greatest expression of free speech.

Vote 2020
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Thanks to a truncated Major League Baseball season that is regularly interrupted by positive COVID tests among its players, I’ve defaulted too often to watching cable news. A mistake? Probably. Our politics is an open wound. I’m better off watching TCM. But if there’s one thing that it has motivated me to do more than ever it’s this: vote. As the season of early voting begins and is accelerated by the pandemic, it’s now in front of us sooner than ever.

The First Amendment to the Constitution grants us the free exercise of religion and the free expression of speech. Prayer, to me, is the greatest exercise of faith. The vote is our greatest expression of free speech. Our country needs both urgently now. 

The first time I voted was the year I turned 18 and the first election where 18-year-olds could vote. It felt like the stars of democracy were aligned and indeed there was a tremendous youth vote that year. 

I was passionate about my candidates and issues. When I finally got inside the voting booth it felt like I had entered the inner sanctum of democracy. All at once it seemed more important that I was voting rather than whom I was voting for. It is a right so many of our brothers and sisters have fought and died for, a right that countless millions around the world are denied, often with violence. 

Little more than half of eligible voters turn out for our presidential elections. Even this year, with both sides saying the election is the most important of our lifetimes, we’re unlikely to hit even 60 percent. That’s a travesty. To me, apathy is a form of cowardice, and cynicism its lazy counterpart.     

Do you remember the first time you voted? It felt pretty empowering, right? Going home and watching the vote tally and realizing yours was one. It matters—even if you’re in one of those states that always goes one way while you vote another. 

It still matters that we show up because any vote is a vote for democracy. Without democracy we lose all our other rights. I wish that was something the younger generation understood better. People under 30 have the lowest turnout rates, and that’s a shame because it’s their future we’re voting on. Don’t they know that? 

So this year I will exercise my First Amendment rights. I will pray for the country to have wisdom and compassion and courage, and I will vote for the candidates I think will best bring us together to meet the great challenges we face. I hope you do too.

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