Record numbers of voters have turned out to the polls during early voting. Despite that, there is little doubt that many potential voters have been turned off by the extreme partisan rancor of this election. It’s understandable that some might consider simply staying home this election. We urge them to reconsider!
The single most important aspect to a healthy democracy is participation. That’s why ATPE has been steadfastly working with Texas Educators Vote, a coalition of education advocates, to encourage educators to vote and help create a culture of voting in the Texas education community.
There is wisdom in the phrase “exercising your right to vote.” A healthy democracy requires a strong active electorate. The only way to foster such an electorate is for each of us to vote every chance we get, to view voting not as an option but as an American imperative. When we don’t vote, we instead allow our electoral muscles to atrophy and the results aren’t positive. The electorate becomes smaller and those on the edges of the political spectrum both left and right gain an outsized voice in selecting candidates. Those candidates, who go on to become office holders, in turn tend to feel less accountable to the majority of their constituents who didn’t participate in electing them. They are instead much more likely to concern themselves with big money special interests and those voters whom they perceive as controlling the primary selection process but who may not share the view of the majority of Texans.
As with exercising any muscle, you are unlikely to see major improvements after going to the gym one time. The same can be said about voting. You may not feel that voting this time, in this election will change much; but when more of us vote every time in every election it will begin to make a big difference, both in the makeup of our elected officials and in the way we interact with them.
The best way to start forming any habit is to stop thinking about it in future terms and start practicing that habit in the present. The same is true of voting. The best time to begin that mental shift to viewing voting as an American imperative, to begin making voting a habit, is not the next election —it’s this election, and it’s now.
So if you haven’t voted yet, now is the time. Most polls are open today until 7 pm and will be open again from 7 am to 7 pm on Election Day, Tuesday (Nov. 8). As long as you are in line by the time the polls close, you will be allowed to cast your ballot.
Before you cast your vote, visit the 2016 Races page here on Teach the Vote to view candidate information, then head to the polls and exercise your right.