You Can Make a Difference in November

We make a difference every day

There are many of us who want to make a difference. It gives us meaning in life – a sense of purpose. We do so with our families, our work, even our hobbies as we enjoy the fruits of our imaginations. Some are role models. Some lead others. We make a difference even when following the directions of others, completing our responsibilities in concert with our peers.

A suffragist made a difference

Meredith Mendelsohn, in her article in The New York Times, She Was More Than Just the ‘Most Beautiful Suffragist,’ highlights one who sacrificed her life to make a difference. She writes:

In October 1916, Inez Milholland, a renegade young lawyer and ardent social reformer, collapsed onstage while eloquently pleading with more than a thousand women in Los Angeles to stand together in the battle for women’s suffrage. Run ragged from weeks of campaigning across the West while fighting strep throat and tonsillitis, she died the next month, at age 30, from pernicious anemia.

082420 Make a Difference

It’s appropriate to hold up Inez Milholland as a heroine for she strived to bring the power of the voting voice to at least half of us. Not a knight on a white horse but, as Mendelsohn tells us, she was comparable to Joan of Arc. She led, she agitated, she was impassioned to make a difference. Her famous last words were:

Mr. President [Woodrow Wilson], how long must women wait for liberty?

The reporting informs us:

In October 1916, Inez Milholland, a renegade young lawyer and ardent social reformer, collapsed onstage while eloquently pleading with more than a thousand women in Los Angeles to stand together in the battle for women’s suffrage. Run ragged from weeks of campaigning across the West while fighting strep throat and tonsillitis, she died the next month, at age 30, from pernicious anemia. 

She died before she realized success from her endeavors. While that’s a sad ending to an energetic and charismatic life, it gives us perspective during this centennial time of remembrance of the women’s suffrage movement. She made a difference that affects us today as many women will cast their ballots this fall.

Our votes make a difference

Our votes, the many millions of them, will make a difference this November. Whether they are among the choices made for our president or for contenders down ballot, those votes make a difference. Yours, whether you’re male or female or somewhere along the gender-fluid spectrum, should be among them.

As our ballots are cast, we should be mindful of the sacrifice the suffragists made to make the votes of women count. Some of us don’t have to sacrifice much to vote, thankfully. We in Oregon can comfortably complete our ballots at our kitchen table and drop them off either in a local ballot drop-off box or by mail.

Voter suppression makes a difference

Some are not so fortunate. Some are challenged to cast their ballots. History tells of pernicious times when poll taxes were levied, tests were demanded, and physical restrictions were put in place to exercise voter suppression. Restrictions such as these are nefarious, illegal, and make a difference in a more diabolical manner. We need to be aware of such history and recognize it when such activities stir among us again.

There is great concern surging across the nation as the upcoming election looms. Reliance on the USPS is in question as confidence in a timely delivery of ballots is in question. Will the post office’s promise, we’ve come to revere, now hold?

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

We are now being warned to plan our vote. Be sure you’re registered to vote. Apply for a ballot if you plan to vote by mail. And, if you do, vote early to further ensure your vote is counted. It’s a judicious caution to follow.

Your vote will be counted. Votes are tallied state-by-state for the presidential election to see which candidate prevails. Your vote will make a difference as these votes are counted.

Vote suppression also makes a difference

Sadly, there is another truth that comes into play before the Electoral College has a chance to do its sorting, its deliverance of a presidential winner. Beyond the reach of the U.S. Constitution the strangling hand of the Winner-Takes-All (WTA) approach discards any ballot not cast for any candidate not winning the plurality of a state’s voting total. Your vote will make a difference, but it may not matter. It won’t matter if it gains no representation in the Electoral College. It’s called vote suppression.

Vote suppression always occurs. Almost half of the votes cast will not matter. We typically toss aside 46% of the votes cast in every presidential election as they fail to gain voting representation. It only matters if your vote is among the many – the plurality – of those cast in your state. Cast your vote if you want to make a difference but you best be in the correct state if you want your vote to matter – from a state that votes in a plurality the same as you do.

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) erases WTA from the equation and ensures that all votes matter. In ten weeks, as you watch the Electoral College maps be displayed onscreen and you see the damage done by WTA, think of the tens of millions of votes that do not matter. They’re counted but they don’t matter.

Who among you will mount a horse to make a statement, to make a difference? Or will we simply say, “Maybe next time?”

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

 

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