September 1 marks the beginning of National Voter Registration Month. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic Field Organizer in Virginia, Ashley Farmer, shares why she believes in the importance of voting and how getting involved in local elections is crucial to creating change in our communities.
I remember when I first registered to vote. I was a senior in high school and my library had a “Thanks-A-Latte!” day where every student who registered to vote got a free coffee. Although I love caffeine, I was more than happy to finally register - Obama was running for his second term, and I was excited to know that I could be a part of the electoral process. Ever since my first Gender and Women’s Studies class and I heard the infamous “the personal is political” statement, I’ve always understood how important it is to exercise my voice in the polls. So many of our identities play into our relationship with the government - our race, class, gender, religion, and more. Our identities and experiences can also influence whether we are even allowed to cast our ballot - those with lack of “proper” identification, formerly incarcerated folks, and immigrants who live and work in the U.S. may be denied these rights.
Understanding the privilege that comes along with being able to vote emphasizes why it’s important that we use the voice we are given. It connects us to our larger community and helps us take a stand on the things that matter most to us. Reproductive rights, racial justice, gender equality, immigration reform, and a myriad of other issues continue to play out in our state and federal governments. These conversations can have real-life consequences on families and entire communities if handled improperly, and bountiful change if we move towards an America that will stand for all.
Currently in Virginia we are in the middle of a gubernatorial election. Two men firmly believe that they are fighting to make Virginia a better place, but have radically different views on how that would happen. Diversity and difference in opinion is welcomed and it’s what makes our country amazing, but simply stating that we support one candidate over the other is not enough - making it out to the polls is the only way of ensuring that our choice is made loud and clear. When we stand proud in our vote, we stand proud with our community, and the first step in creating that solidarity is to make sure you’re registered and know where your polling place is.
Stay connected, stay involved, and I’ll see you at the polls!
Check your Virginia voter registration status here.
Register to vote in Virginia here. The deadline is Monday, October 16, 2017.
Reminder: the Virginia General and Special Elections will take place on Tuesday, November 7.