Get Out the Youth Vote
Election season is coming soon. For some of us this will be our first time voting, while others might have to wait a few more years. Not being able to vote shouldn't stop us from having conversations about the election. And even if you’re overwhelmed by having to make choices on your ballot, don’t let it scare you away from voting.
If friends and family don't want to vote or think that it isn't important to vote, try to educate them on the importance of using their right to vote. Inform them on the issues that might affect your family or others you care about—and key questions they can use to research candidates on issues related to reproductive health. And if someone in your family thinks that their vote doesn't matter they’re not alone; past voter turnout was only around 60% for presidential elections. But elections are often decided by very small margins.
When you vote you can have a big impact. If more eligible American voters cast their ballot on (or before!) November 3 this year, then their points of view will be better represented in local, state, and national offices then the past elections.
If it’s either your or your friends’ first time voting you’re probably excited and nervous at the same time. This year is especially nerve wracking as you may not know how to cast your vote with the pandemic. Many of us have more options than normal to vote right now such as voting by mail, early voting, and, as always, voting in person.
If you are not yet eligible to vote this year but still want to make a difference you can talk to the people in your life who can vote in the upcoming election. Educate them. Ask them how they are planning on voting. If they’re comfortable sharing with you, ask them how they plan to cast their ballot and talk about what issues matter to them. You can even help out on election day as a poll worker if you meet the requirements for your state.
When talking to others make sure that it is a healthy conversation.
Don't be accusatory; remember that it is a discussion and not an argument. It is normal for conversations where people disagree to turn into arguments. Be aware of the change and try to turn it back to a conversation by addressing the emotion, taking a breath, using “I” statements instead of “you,” and trying to see things from the other perspective. Understand that other people will have had different experiences from you and so many have a different view from you. Be able to respect that it is different than yours.
Be an active listener
This may sound very simple, but it takes practice. Listening closely to what others say can be more influential than speaking at times. After you listen to what your friend or family member says, let them know you understand them. This can be done through body language, a verbal response, or by asking questions. How you choose to acknowledge their words will depend on who you’re talking to and what you’re talking about, but you should always let the other person know that you understand what they are saying.
It can be hard to stay respectful to others when they have different views than you. However, it is still worth having a conversation with them to understand why their views differ from yours. If the conversation gets too out of control, feel free to walk away before anyone gets hurt. While having a conversation always stay conscious of letting the other participant speak without interrupting them. Then when it’s your turn to talk, make sure that you’re allowed to speak without interruption too. Also, make sure that one person isn’t talking the whole time.
We are now closer than ever to election day. If you are eligible to vote you should use your right to do so. With several ways to cast your ballot this year it has never been easier. However, if you can't vote, you can still be active in the election by helping out at poll centers as well as by encouraging others to vote.