By now we are all intimately familiar with the horrific events that have occurred in 2020. It has been a year full of multifaceted injustices ranging from the outrageously high COVID-19 death toll that has disproportionately affected communities of color, to the violence and deaths that have resulted from police brutality. There have been substantial attacks on the rights of the LGBTQ+ community as well as substantial attacks on the democracy of the United States itself. Given the human lives and the human rights that are at stake in this upcoming election, it is arguably more important now than ever before that we exercise our right to vote.
As citizens of the United States, it is our job to be active participants in the democratic process through casting our ballots in elections. As such, it is absolutely vital to the health and to the wellbeing of our country that we all vote this fall, regardless of our excitement or lack thereof for a particular presidential candidate. Additionally, it is of the utmost importance that we make an informed decision when choosing candidates listed on our ballots. This means that we must all educate ourselves on both the political records and the platforms of each candidate on the ballot, regardless of the office they are running for. Although change can happen at a federal level, change often begins with officials elected for local offices, so make sure you are choosing candidates that stand for what you believe in.
In a time where there is much turmoil and unrest present in our country, it is imperative that we all remember change begins with us and with our votes. If you or somebody you love has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, educate yourself on how candidates plan on handling the pandemic and choose the people you feel will make a difference in your community. If you have been devastated by the blatant acts of racism that are still plaguing us in 2020, it is your job to learn about the records and the platforms of each candidate so that you know who truly stands for justice and who does not. If you care deeply about any other issues that are influenced by policy makers, it is your responsibility to look up both the records and the platforms of each candidate to make sure that you are making an informed decision when you cast your ballot this fall. If there is not a candidate that you are excited to vote for, it is your job to educate yourself so that you can choose the candidates that will benefit the most vulnerable members of your community. If you are an undecided voter, factcheck your candidates through non-partisan resources to ensure you are making an informed decision.
In closing, if you are looking for justice, vote. If you are looking for a way out of this pandemic, vote. If you are looking for economic relief, vote. Urge your family and friends to vote. Find ways to become politically active in your community to help ensure your voice and the voices around you are heard. Use your voice to fight for justice for the most marginalized members of your community. And above all else, remember that change starts with you and with your vote, so please make a plan and make sure your voice gets heard.
Kayla Tate, School of Public Health PhD student
Julian Rangel, MPH, School of Public Health Alumni