To Get Out and Vote, a family tradition by jasmine carter
As a daughter of Hispanic immigrants, my parents instilled in me the importance of giving back and caring for one another. Voting is a way of showing that you care about your community and a way to give back. My mother often took my sister and me to vote with her when we were little, and now as voters, we go together or fill out our mail-in absentee ballots as a family. I also make sure I text all my cousins, uncles, and aunts about anything voting related.
As someone who works in the civic engagement space, I often think about how my grandparents came to the U.S. for a better life for their children, which offered my mother the ability to build a life here for herself and, in turn, for me. Voting is a way to continue that goal for a better life for us and others. Most of my family became citizens through naturalization, and I remind them of the importance of exercising their right to vote and having their voices heard.
While we may not see the changes immediately, those elected to office make decisions that impact our everyday lives. Whether fixing potholes on the roads, increasing or lowering taxes, or immigration reform, these issues affect our neighbors and us. Voting accessibility is another issue that profoundly impacts everyone, especially immigrants and first-time voters.
We have a crucial election coming up in November that will impact the future of our state. Several seats are up for reelection: U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative, and Governor. These offices create laws that affect our homes on a state and national level. Alaskan voters will have the opportunity to rank the top four candidates from the August primary election. Depending on where you live, state senate and house races are also ranked-choice votes. In addition to electing new officials, Alaskans will also vote on whether we should have a Constitutional Convention. The constitutional convention will be a simple yes or no question on the ballot. This question might seem unimportant, but a constitutional convention could rewrite the foundation of our entire state. It is imperative all Alaskans vote on whether we should have one.
Our voter registration deadline was Sunday, October 9th. Be sure your voter information is up to date! There are several ways Alaskan voters can cast their ballots. The top three ways are absentee by mail, early in person, or on Election Day. I have personally used all these ways to vote throughout the years.
• Absenteeby mail is a great way to vote if you will be out of town or if you need extra time to read up on candidates before voting. Many people who vote this way say it is the most convenient since the ballot is sent directly to you. There are also ballots in Spanish that you can request to help fill out the English ballot. Once you have filled out your ballot, you can send it back or drop it off at the Division of Elections office. Don’t forget the witness’s signature and a stamp if you send it through the mail. You can even sign up to track your ballot to know when it arrives at a voting center! The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is Saturday, October 29th.
• Early in person is another great way to vote if you don’t want to spend too much time in line on Election Day and want to get voting out of the way. Early voting locations open on Monday, October 24th. One early voting location is the Division of Elections office in midtown. Check the Division of Elections website for other early voting locations.
• Lastly, voting on Tuesday, November 8th, is the last way to cast your ballot on Election Day. The Division of Elections has an excellent language accessibility protocol and can help any voter with language accessibility issues, such as translated ballots, forms, and voter education materials.
All these voting forms take time to plan, so be sure to plan and invite others to do the same! Especially If you know someone who will need help due to language barriers, make sure you offer them extra support, as voting can often be intimidating for non or limited English speakers. With the Hispanic and Latino vote increasing every year, now more than ever is the time to make your voice heard! Voting is a small way for everyone to give back and show that they care about their home. Many of our family members come to this country for a better life, and voting is one way to continue with that mission for ourselves and generations to come. For more information, visit: https://akcenter.org/democracy/.
Jasmine Carter is a born and raised Alaskan and the South-Central Civic Engagement Organizer at The Alaska Center Education Fund.
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