This opinion was originally published by the Daily Journal.
I am a first-year college student. I have declared two majors, a minor, and a certificate. I am an honors student, working for my university, recently pledging with an academic fraternity, with four club meetings a week on top of classes, social events, and family commitments. I understand every reason why you would choose to abstain from voting in the May 2023 primary election, believe me, I deeply understand aggressively avoiding another commitment.
But voting is an act of self-care, not a commitment. Political participation can help you feel less lost in the sea of everything else you have to do. Last year only 13.7% of Johnson County voters turned up for the primaries. Why? Because it’s another thing to put in your calendar, another stop to make on your way home from the post office, an added errand to run when you have milk and eggs in your grocery bags? We have to stop thinking about voting as an inconvenience. It is a hard-won privilege.
I want to bring your memory back to the first time you voted — I just had this experience in October. Do you remember feeling proud? Do you remember feeling like you had played a role in the “bigger picture” of American Democracy? I did. I have been looking forward to voting since I was a toddler, and my mother lovingly gave me her “I Voted” sticker. This desire and excitement grew when I started learning about the political process in middle school, stronger in my government and history classes in high school, and it skyrocketed over the past three years.
Many of us have felt completely powerless with the past few years’ events; huge changes circulating, protests across the state and news stories blaring on about how our world as we know it is crumbling. I understand why you feel lost. I feel for you as a young adult trying to understand which way is up. I want to remind you that you have a place in this big process, you get to help. Your vote will help.
If you show up this spring and cast your vote, you ensure your voice will be heard. You get a tangible part in expressing your needs and desires as a citizen. When I left the courthouse after my first time voting this fall, I remember my shoulders loosening and the knot in my stomach unraveling. I knew I had done something to take control of the tumultuous hurricane around me, and I want this for you too.
Voting is a right and a privilege. Not a chore you have to complete or something you have to check off. Let that powerless feeling fade, and remember you have the power to help. You get to have a say in what happens over the next few years. Take advantage of it.
Another act of self-care is to join the League of Women Voters of Johnson County. The nonpartisan organization’s mission is to “Empower Voters and Defend Democracy.” We provide facts and encourage people to be informed. We educate ourselves and our community and we advocate for good government on all levels. All League-sponsored work is nonpartisan and we are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in all League activities.
Zoe Catlin is a student at Indiana University and an active member of the League of Women Voters of Johnson County. To learn more about LWVJC, visit lwvjcin.org.
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