There are moments that have happened in my life when I can close my eyes and remember the person I was before those moments and then see a marked change in who I was after them. The first time I voted was one of those moments. It was in a midterm election in 2014.
I’m 35 years old and I’ve only been an active voter for 4 years. I’ve been a registered voter for over a decade though.
So why did I decide to actually vote?
I wish I could say I just felt an overwhelming urge to exercise my civic duty. The truth, though, is that it wasn’t until I started researching candidates and an upcoming election for my job at the time (I was reporting for a small newspaper) that I realized how vital voting is not only for ourselves, but for the people we love. I remember reading candidates’ positions on different issues and realizing that their stances on healthcare, immigration, foreign affairs, domestic concerns and so much more either were inline with my own or vastly different. I reviewed voting records and historical data and realized that I wanted a voice in who was elected, in which referendums and ballot measures passed...or didn’t.
I wrote down my choices for candidates and votes for different ballot measures and went to early voting in the midterm election in Texas in 2014. I was so nervous. But I showed up and voted anyway. As I walked out afterward, the “I voted” sticker firmly placed on my shirt, I felt so powerful. I had made choices based on what I believed was best for my community, family, state and nation.
I still haven’t tired of that powerful feeling. I never will. Voting allows my voice to be heard. And joined with other voters, we can build and change America, for ourselves, and each other.