It’s about that time! Election Day is right around the corner, and many Americans are choosing not to exercise their right to vote. I have listened to different individuals’ reasons for not voting this year, and instead of brushing them off, I had a conversation with political strategist Ericka Claudio to get some answers! Ericka only reassured my feelings on the importance of voting, and I hope that after reading this article her words will have the same affect on you.
A Little About Ms. Claudio
Ericka Claudio is a political operative that jump started her career earlier this year on the Bernie Sanders campaign as a national organizer. Previously, she’s worked on local races for local candidates such as Mayor Kasim Reed and Jason Carter. She currently serves on the US Senate race for Jim Barksdale and wants to express the importance of voting down the ballot this election. After traveling the country and the state, she’s talked to so many discouraged voters but makes a good case for why our votes matter now more than ever.
First, Ericka and I spoke on the importance of voting, not only for the President of the United States, but also for your statewide and local candidates. Here’s what Ericka had to say:
Why Local Elections Are So Important
EC: Think of the federal government as the CEO and think of voters as the day-to-day people on the team who work on the ground. When a new CEO takes office, there are a lot of people that you have to go through to get anything done. Think of your local statewide candidates like your governors, mayors, state legislatures; those are like your supervisors and team leaders – people you go to to get work done. Without those people there’s a big disconnect between the CEO and the every day team player. I use that analogy to basically say that your local statewide elected officials are the people who can get access to federal influence.
A good example of this is – the HealthCare Act passed; it is a law and has provided millions and millions of Americans access to health insurance that otherwise would not have that access. However in the state of Georgia, because we have a Republican control state Senate and we also have a Republican governor we have not accepted money from the federal government to expand Medicare Medicaid for Obama Care to work in Georgia. A lot of Georgians ask, “what happened to affordable healthcare act I thought I was supposed to get insurance?” but the state has not accepted the funding, and it’s free! It’s free for the state to accept the money from the federal government but because the state government is so anti-“whatever” they have refused to accept the money to make Obama Care work, and as a result millions of Georgians don’t have health insurance to this day. That’s a good example of why it’s important to participate in your local and statewide elections because yeah getting a federal win when it comes to gay marriage, raising minimum-wage and affordable healthcare is great, but unless your state and local officials are on the same page with what’s happening on a federal level there is a huge disconnect as far as if we’re able to reach those benefits.
You can name any headline that’s happened in the last year like police brutality for example, federal government can’t do anything about police brutality at a local level because it’s a state right. Each city and each municipality has control over their police department. Just like when a man got lynched in Piedmont Park people were wondering why Obama wasn’t talking about this stuff and it’s because well it’s really not in their control. It’s more of an issue for Mayor Kasim Reed and Governor Deal. That is something that our local and state officials control.
All these things that happen at a level that impacts us immediately, are at the local and state control.
Reasons Why You Think You Shouldn’t Vote
Reason #1 – “I don’t want to vote for someone to vote for me”
EC: I definitely get that a lot of people have their feelings about the Electoral College. We have an electoral college and popular votes, we saw [what happened] in 2000 when Al Gore won the popular vote but George W. Bush won electoral college; but then you see states like Florida and Ohio and all these swing states where those individual votes really make or break the electoral college’s decision, and a lot of people say you know, “I don’t want to vote for somebody who’s going to come in and tell me how to vote,” but electoral college bases their decision off of the individual votes. It’s an equation. Everything is calculated. There’s no way it can be rigged; and they can’t be biased and say “well I’m gonna let Georgia be red because it’s a Republican state,” they have to take into account tons of different things to come to the conclusion of who is going to get the Electoral College vote for that state. So it’s really important that when people vote they don’t use that as a way to be discouraged, it’s more so an empowerment thing like “I’m going to make sure that I vote so that I can’t be ignored,” because whether you go or don’t go either way someone’s going to win, someone’s going to take Office. So not voting is not the best way to go. It’s really playing dead in a sense and letting whatever happen to whatever and at that point I think that’s just the most irresponsible thing that anyone can do because there’s just too much at stake.
If they are so anti-electoral college or anti-this, anti-that, then voting is the best way to go about changing that because you can vote for people who agree with you and who can take action to help create better systems.
If you choose not to vote you’re essentially allowing for the current system to stay in place and you’re not letting your voice be heard in a way that’s effective and can get anything done.
Wait, what exactly is Electoral College?
For those who aren’t familiar with the Electoral College and how it works, Ericka breaks it down for us.
EC: So basically the Electoral College is a body of people representing us and they formally cast the votes for the elections for the president. It’s there to create kind of like this middle man or this buffering zone between popular vote and the President, because what you don’t want to have is – everyone goes to vote and it’s kind of like how do you know that everyone voted this way or that way. The Electoral College just filters all of the ballots and processes them all based off of population. For example, California is one of the biggest states in the country and has an extremely large number of electoral votes because it’s based off of population. So what happens is the people who are in the electoral college are appointed by a larger group and they filter the general election kind of make sure that the representation of that state is being accounted for. It’s someone who comes in and puts all the votes together and says, “The large majority of people in our state voted this way so the state goes to this person.”
Reason #2 – “The system is fixed/rigged/corrupt”
EC: I definitely understand, especially this year with all the things that have happened from Wikileaks to the FBI investigations, I understand why Americans call into question the electoral concept, but it’s just impossible to rig an election, a general election especially, because you have a representative republic which is the Electoral College that helps tellgate the vote. They come in and make sure that the winner of the vote was the one elected without any question.
It’s literally impossible to rig the elections because of the Electoral College. A lot of people say the election is rigged because of the Electoral College that’s actually the complete opposite. Electoral college comes in and makes sure that it is not rigged.
So don’t buy into all of that. For years and years and years, this has worked. If you think about how we elect a leader for our country and how other countries elect their leadership… now that’s rigged. If you look over at for example, Nigeria – they don’t have this buffering zone democracy so it’s easy to rig elections because there’s no system in place. So you have countries that don’t have a system in place and base everything off of popular votes and it just kind of becomes this thing of “how do you know” – how do you know that those people voted for who they said that they did?
So I get it, I definitely understand it. Just know that the way that our democracy is set up it is 110% impossible to rig the election.
Reason #3 – “I don’t like either candidate, why vote for the lesser of two evils?”
EC: As a former Bernie staffer, I was not really big on having to vote for the “lesser of two evils” either, but one thing I think is really important to really think about is that you can’t really judge someone based off of whether you like them as a person – you’re putting someone in the position to literally lead the entire free world. There are qualifications that go into that. Like Oprah Winfrey said, they’re not going to be somebody that you bring over to your house and have dinner with, they’re not going to be somebody that you tell your deepest darkest secrets to. This is going to be the person that literally is going to be able to make the call if there was a national tragedy. This is going to be the person that helps provide resources to the poor and works with other world leaders.
There’s just too much at risk to base your choice on whether or not you “like” someone. I think Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump definitely have flawed pasts and I think this is the most unique situation that we’ve ever seen when it comes to candidates that are just this unpopular at the general election level, so I definitely understand that; but at the end of the day Hillary Clinton, and I’m saying this as a Hillary Clinton supporter, she is able do the job.
If you go to the hospital and you have a sick child and you have one doctor that you really like but they are in their residency, haven’t even passed the boards yet or met all the requirements, doesn’t have the knowledge, but has an awesome personality then you have this other doctor who is super experienced, has been in this situation before, has done the surgeries, but is kind of an asshole – which one are you going to trust? That’s kind of how you have to see your vote. You kind of have to see your vote as your baby and whom are you going to trust your baby with.
So for the people who say the less of two evils I understand. They’re not that likable, but at the end of the day who can do the job the best? That’s what you have to focus on. It’s a hard job and you have to put a person in there that’s going to have the toughness and the experience to execute it well. Along with that, you elect people who are going to hold that person accountable to the highest standards, so that there’s integrity and trust within that position and you have a balance.
Why is Ericka ‘With Her’?
EC: Nothing personal against Donald Trump, but you have an individual who has no plan, has a lot of things to say about x, y and z, but has no actual plan to make it happen, where as you have another candidate who has a very detailed plan whether or not you think it’s politics, it’s there for you to see – what she wants to do, how she wants to do it, the things needed to make it happen, I mean a legitimate plan. If you compare the two, as far as when it comes to getting the job done, it’s kind of a no brainer. You have an individual who’s never ran for public office ever, they don’t understand the legislative process, they’ve never delegated tasks on a local or state level, they’ve just had businesses; but yet they want to run as the president? That’s crazy.
Whether or not you agree with Ms. Claudio, I strongly encourage you to take into consideration all the she has shared and go out and vote! You can’t complain about any of your country’s, state’s or county’s circumstances or conditions if you don’t do your part and exercise your right as an American citizen to vote – you just can’t!
If anyone has any questions on politics, the elections, or how to vote feel free to comment them below and Ericka would be more than happy to answer them for you.
To check whether you are registered, where to vote, or early voting locations visit your voter page at: https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do
Remember, today is the last day for early voting in GA
Written By: Daniela Posso