2016 Election: Protest All You Want But Vote

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. (Google Images)

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. (Google Images)

It seems everyone, everywhere, is talking about this year’s election. There are countless articles discussing the importance of the Black vote, whether Black people should vote at all, and many explaining why they are or are not voting in this presidential election. The National Newspaper Publishers Association and Howard University just released a national black voter poll (#BlackVoterPoll) results on what black voters think, feel and plan to do in this election. In spite of So you’ve decided to protest vote or not vote for Former Secretary Clinton and Trump? Fine.

I’m not here to suggest that you should be With Her or that one need feel any particular way about the idea of Mak[ing] America Great Again. To be quite honest, the last eight years have proven to me just how important local elections are to our everyday lives. The President of The United States (POTUS) can, and will, only do as much as they can without the full weight of an ideologically aligned Congress behind them. Who am I kidding? Without a partisan Congress, I mean. People can feel how they want about President Obama, but the fact of the matter is, Congress has thwarted many attempts at passing legislation and reaching across the aisle for whatever reason.

Despite these efforts, I still believe every single one of you who can vote, should vote.

As a Georgia resident, I’m currently facing several amendments that may mean the end of worker and parental autonomy as we know it. For instance, Amendment 1 asks voters to consider giving the state power to seize local schools, while Amendment 2 suggests a link between strip clubs and other adult entertainment venues and prostitution in the name of protecting sexually exploited children. From my perspective, Amendment 2 minimizes adult agency and is a prime example of government overreach—but I’m just one person reading into its vague language.

These amendments, like other measures on the ballot, are where my indifference to protest voting, and not voting at all, come to an end.

There seems to be an assumption that one can’t vote in local elections without voting for a presidential candidate and this is wholly untrue. Write in a name. Vote for Hillary, even if you don’t like her, because as some argue it will provide Bernie Sanders with a significant committee chair position. Vote for Trump because you think we need a U.S. version of Brexit to stick it to the man. Don’t vote for a presidential candidate at all and skip the question by leaving it blank. Whatever the reason(s), you’ve got options beyond indifference when the future of education, or local transportation, or something else locally significant depends on your voice and vote.

I get it — many of you are frustrated with the lack of bipartisanship at the federal level. Others are tired of feeling like their voices aren’t heard. And here I sit hoping the federal government won’t dictate whether you blithely look on to watch Tuesday unfold as the future of your local community hangs in the balance. So consider doing yourselves and your neighbors a favor by protesting, but put an asterisk by it. Take this opportunity to split your protest vote by foregoing the general for POTUS and using this time to hold your state officials accountable. There’s too much at stake at all levels of government and I doubt you’ll regret it.

This post was written by Brittany M. Williams, a freelance career development & admissions specialist, researcher, #2a supporter, & politics and pop culture aficionado. Follow her on Twitter @Ms_BMWilliams.  

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