In a few weeks, two of my four children will be participating in a U.S. presidential election for the first time.
Like most families around the globe, we’ve had more togetherness than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and politics has been a bigger topic of conversation at our house this year than in the past. Needless to say, we don’t always agree. Many of my colleagues have reported similar conversations in their own households.
The global spotlight and multiple storylines of this election result in a constant, and sometimes overbearing, newsreel of chaotic conversations on social media and television. (I still find my favorite news comes from the printed format, four examples of which land on my doorstep daily.) What I tell my kids is this: Don’t stand idle — do your research and exercise your right to vote. Every vote matters!
As a communicator, a citizen and a dad, I’m particularly passionate about this message. The more we discuss the issues, listen, advocate and care for each other and participate in the process, a better world and a force for good will result.
We hear the moniker “Get Out the Vote” or “Rock the Vote” every election season, but unfortunately, in the recent past relatively few people, especially younger people, have exercised this civic right. In the 2016 election, only about half the number of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 29 cast ballots. I’m hoping November 2020 will be different.
Our nation’s history is filled with discriminatory laws and practices denying the right to vote to too many people. Leaders and activists have sacrificed their lives and continue to demand our nation uphold this constitutional right. While we are far from perfect, many around the world envy our rights.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer, actor, singer, playwright, and creator of Hamilton, sums it up best “Our nation is asking to hear your voice because November is coming and so is your choice. Do not throw away your shot.”
So, I asked my two voting-age children, why do you vote?
My oldest responded, “I vote because I want my voice to be heard. Young people are going to be the ones that experience the outcomes of each election for the longest amount of time, so it’s crucial for us to take part in elections.” And my other child who will be voting for the first time stated, “I vote because I want to represent the best leader, I believe our country, or state or city needs.”
As we talk to this next generation, it is important to emphasize that, regardless of who you want to win or defeat, every vote counts; every vote matters. Now is the time to exercise your rights.
At Ketchum, we’ve created a special page on our website filled with resources about voting (and voting safely), video testimonials from our colleagues about why they vote, and communications perspectives around what has turned out to be a contentious voting season. Throughout it all, there’s one consistent message: Whatever your affiliation, whatever your politics, whatever your geography, whatever your age (so long as it’s 18 or up)—please vote!