Never take our democracy for granted. Vote! by forrest dunbar
When my Grandmother Herta fled Germany as a little girl, democracy had died in her homeland. What had once been relatively free and fair elections had been corrupted, radicalized, and finally ended by fascists. Though her father died in a Nazi camp, my grandmother and her mother escaped and came to the United States as refugees. Until her dying day, her message to me was the same: “It could happen here.”
I still believe that an authoritarian takeover will not occur in the United States, but I also know this much is true: we must never take our democracy for granted.
Protecting, preserving, and expanding our democratic institutions, and the rights and freedoms of those living in our republic, requires us to pay attention, to care about each other, and most of all to vote.
Now, I’m not saying that every time you vote is a matter of life or death, but there are real and important issues on the ballot, and very different views held by the two main political parties when it comes to healthcare, minimum wage laws, worker protections, immigration, voting rights, and much more. For those in our community who are struggling, or are medically vulnerable, their life might very well be in the balance, especially in the era of COVID-19.
It is also important to stress that your vote matters. Not just in an abstract, or philosophical sense, but in a real, concrete, this-might-decide-the-election way.
Alaska is a small population state, with a history of very close elections. In 2018, a State House race in Fairbanks was decided by just one vote. In 2006, a race in Western Alaska actually tied, and was decided by a coin flip! The winner of that coin flip? Alaska Native leader and current Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives Bryce Edgmon.
So, your vote matters. But between COVID-19 and the work of everyday life, I know that voting can feel like just one more thing on a long list of things to do. This is why it’s so important to have a plan for how and when to cast your vote.
The most convenient way to vote in the upcoming election will likely be in-person during Alaska’s early voting period, which is open from October 19 to November 2. Lines will be shorter, social distancing will be easier, and you will be able to vote when it’s most convenient for you and your family.
A list of Alaska’s early voting locations can be found online at https://www.elections.alaska.gov/Core/avolocationsg.php. If you can’t access that website for some reason, here are the two early voting locations open most often in Anchorage: City Hall on 6th Avenue Downtown and the Department of Elections Office at 2525 Gambell Street in Midtown.
Alternatively, you could sign up to vote by mail, and either mail your ballot or put it in a drop box. Just remember, the deadline to sign up to vote by mail is October 24. Finally, if you choose to vote on Election Day, November 3rd, please wear a mask, wash or sanitize your hands, and practice appropriate social distancing.
Whether this is your first time voting in Alaska or you are a long-time voter, your vote matters. Developing a plan to vote now will help things go smoother as Election Day approaches. When I vote, the words of my grandmother echo in my mind. But whatever moves you, please know that your vote is crucial to protecting democracy in Alaska and in our nation. We need your voice.
PROUDLY POWERED BY SOL DE MEDIANOCHE CO. Sol de Medianoche is a monthly publication of the Latino community in Anchorage, Alaska