BY DAWN RYKHEART, We Vote
In Virginia we hold elections every year, and the years where there is no presidential election usually see less than 50% of registered voters turn out to vote. That’s a problem.
So many laws that govern our daily lives are legislated at the state level, and if you aren’t voting, you are leaving your rights in the hands of those who do. With reproductive health, voting rights, economic growth, environmental responsibility, school curriculums, gun safety regulations, LGBTQ+ protections, mental health services and so much more on the line, the balance of the state House and Senate chambers makes the difference between living in an inclusive community of informed citizens that values self-determination and strives toward equity, or falling in line with our southern neighbors whose individual rights and state economies are shrinking.
Democrats can’t afford to abstain from voting for a candidate because they are not progressive enough or are too far to the left. You may not be thrilled with your local candidate, and you may be frustrated by the slow progress of the party, but we’ve seen what we can lose at the federal level when we don’t stay in it for the long game. Don’t let it happen in our state. Not in our homes. Not to yourself or your family or your neighbor.
This year, all 140 seats in the Virginia General Assembly are on the ballot. Early voting starts September 22. Election day is November 7. Get out and vote sometime during those 47 days. Voting hours and locations are posted on your local registrar’s website, and if you need any information or assistance getting registered to vote, visit the Virginia Department of Elections Citizen Portal at https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation.
I vote because my granddaughter’s life may one day depend on safe access to abortion, as mine once did. I vote because I believe citizens who have completed their jail sentences should have their voting rights restored. I vote because I want every child in the commonwealth to understand our history and be inspired to do things differently. And I want those same children to survive through school and welcome their own families into a world with clean air and water. I vote because I want equity for my friends and neighbors. I vote because I can’t justify not voting for a better world just because it isn’t getting better fast enough. Can you?