With Independence Day occurring at a tumultuous time marked by a global pandemic and a national crisis over racial injustice, Climate gave local contributors carte blanche to write their perspectives on what makes America special. We will be publishing our contributors’ American Stories now through July 4. Keep an eye out for these unique and personal pieces.
I am very passionate about voting. I have voted in every local, state and federal election since registering to vote at 21. Each time I have twisted the lever or completed my mail-in ballot I have thought of Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, Susan B. Anthony and the other suffragists who endured so much in order for American women like me to have the right to vote. I honor them with my vote. And I honor the men and women who fought and those that died protecting my right to vote. It is by voting that we truly participate in democracy.
There are a number of countries that have compulsory voting; their citizens not only are required to vote but face fines or losing civil rights if they do not. There are also countries whose citizens are not allowed to vote for their leaders. And there are places where armed military is present at polling places to intimidate voters. In America we choose to vote and we do so safely and with no intimidation.
It is the responsibility of all Americans to be informed voters. As Thomas Jefferson said, “A well informed electorate is a prerequisite for democracy.” Voting is how we make our voices heard. Voting is how we effect change. November 3, 2020, is a presidential election but it is local elections that have the most impact. City councils, the board of supervisors, school district trustees, the sheriff, the district attorney, judges. This November and every election let your voice be heard.
“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual — or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” –Samuel Adams
Barb Valley is retired from a technology career at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space. Chairman of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association, she also served 12 years on Redwood City’s Library Board.