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What's Left: Take time to vote, folks

The election approaches, and I hope you're ready for it.

101321.O.DG.EMMA MCNAMEE
Emma McNamee
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WORTHINGTON — If you’ve paid any attention at all to the news cycle over the last few months, I’m sure you're aware that the election is fast approaching. While it’s entirely possible you're sick of hearing about it, indulge me anyway, because I’m dragging out my go-vote soapbox for one last hurrah before Nov. 8.

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I’m going to predate this with the disclosure that I understand not everyone approaches elections with the same level of enthusiasm as I do. I make popcorn ahead of live-streaming debates. I keep a FiveThirtyEight tab open on my computer for weeks on end. I check various polls for state and federal elections — I am annoyingly persistent about encouraging my friends and family to vote, and I have no regrets about it.

I think there’s a certain amount of luxury for people who claim to be apolitical, and I’ll go as far as to say I think it showcases a level of apathy to firmly plant yourself outside of the democratic process and act like that’s taking a stand — or worse, to revel in the fact that you simply don’t care enough about the world and people around you to vote.

I’ve heard people say that voting doesn’t matter, for any number of reasons. They don't think highly of either political party. They don’t think local elections have an impact. They just don’t care that much about politics. This seems foreign to me as someone with big opinions on just about everything. Voting costs you nothing while offering you a chance to partake in the decisions impacting you and your community at literally every level. It’s as much an exciting undertaking as it is a responsibility.

Sure, politics can be exhaustive, but elections aren’t an everyday thing. I think of voting as one of the bare minimum things you can do to be involved in the democratic process. You take a little time to read up on what’s on your ballot. You show up to the polls and cast your vote — bam, you’ve done your civic duty.

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You can go out and vote and still not get the desired results, but, to state the obvious, your chances are improved 100% by taking an active role in elections. At the very least, you've participated and it hasn’t cost you anything to do so.

I’m glad to live in a state that boasts such high voter turnout rates — and still, I know people who don’t vote, and have no intention of doing so. I have an ongoing argument with a good friend who doesn’t believe it benefits him to vote; it’s one of those things we’ll never see eye-to-eye on, but keep needling each other about anyway.

I’ll be honest, there is a lot about the American political system that irks me. I don’t like how divisive it is. I find the two-party system's chokehold over elections ridiculous and a major reason why campaigns have become less about a candidate's values and more about how well they’ll serve a party’s interests — even at the detriment of their constituents. I take issue with the electoral college on so many levels, this column could easily turn into a novel.

I understand that some people are so fed up with the current state of politics that they’d rather stay out of the whole thing, but these political pet peeves are part of why I am such an avid voter. I want to elect people who are going to make changes to the world I want to see, and that’s not going to happen if I stand on the sidelines, simply complaining about the state of society while making no effort to be involved in the process. I am granted the right to vote — a right not everyone possesses, and a right that those who came before me had to fight to ensure. I refuse to waste that.

I’m not asking that every person out there suddenly become a political junkie. But take 30 minutes, maybe, to look at what is on your ballot and check out candidates' stances so you can make an informed decision about the upcoming election. If you have extra time, I recommend this quiz , which one of my favorite high school teachers made our entire class take for American Government, and I’ve continued to revisit every election season since.

For those of you out there planning to vote, I also recommend double-checking your voter status on the Secretary of State's website , to make sure you're registered to vote and have the correct polling place for Nov. 8.

Ultimately, though, regardless of your political stance, opinion on how American elections are run, or anything else, I hope you go cast your vote on election day. If the only thing you get out of it is a sticker and a sense of civic duty, I think that’s pretty well worth it.

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Opinion by Emma McNamee
Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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