With all the excitement surrounding the presidential election this year, many citizens will go to the polls with the hope of voting for a new candidate. However, for others, voting is not a concern or an option.
These citizens will not cast ballots on election day as some may believe their vote does not matter. Politicians cannot help them overcome their adverse circumstances or gain access to resources. This is the same feeling many disenfranchised groups felt after the passing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 which allowed oppressed groups the right to vote.
Historically, marginalized groups were not allowed to vote and for centuries had to advocate to exercise the right that was freely given to those of privilege. It is very unfortunate that many people in the 21st century still feel voiceless.
As a result, many people are left feeling hopeless and detached from a system that has constantly shown that power and wealth are associated with class and privilege. To counter feelings of being unheard and hopeless, marginalized communities should be empowered in the “land of the free”.
Regardless of the barriers to voting, it is a right that must be exercised by all citizens. The only way to effect change is by being proactive. The alternative to being proactive is apathy, and accepting the status quo, and social injustices that are very often unintended consequences of existing policies.
Even though some people choose not to vote, their lives are still affected by these policies. Therefore, it is important for all to participate in exercising their right to vote.
Sandra Barajas, Mayra Guerra, Drena Heard, Miyesha Hodo and Rocio Juarez
The authors of this letter are Masters of Social Work candidates at Cal State Long Beach.