Rock The Vote

Column: Finding the Good
by Caitlin Ludwig

This morning, I woke up at 5:00a.m. I had an early morning breakfast meeting (Check out IGNITE’s new series – Breakfast & Business: Entrepreneur Edition) and a long day ahead of me.  I was about 99.9% sure I wasn’t going to make it home before 7p.m. that night, so I had a very important task to do before heading off to work – I had to vote.

Today is the day for local elections.  These

elections tend to have low voter turn out because they aren’t nearly as sexy and glamorous as voting for the next occupant of the big white house.  The funny, well no, not funny – the ironic thing is that these elections matter to our daily lives far more than choosing which person will be leading the country.  It’s during this election that we elect citizens directly from our local community to make decisions in our schools, our fire department, our local boards and our local city council.  These elected folks have much more of an effect on our daily lives than those in Springfield or D.C.  So where’s the hesitation?  Why aren’t people racing out to the polls?  I wish I knew…

I read on Facebook this morning that a gentleman voted at 8:00a.m. in Loves Park and was only the SECOND person to have voted! (Just in case you don’t know, the polls open at 6:00a.m.) In two hours, only two people thought it necessary to take 5 minutes out of their day to elect their future local leaders. If that’s not sad, I don’t know what it. I once dated a guy who refused to vote. It first shocked me – why refuse?? What good does that do anyone? I completely understand refusing certain things in life but voting?? What do you prove, other than your complete complacency in life, by NOT voting? His defense? Well, it’s doesn’t matter anyways. I rolled my eyes and walked away. He was beyond convincing otherwise. It irritated me for the two years we dated that he cared so little about the good of his community that he couldn’t be bothered to fill in some circles on a paper. Needless to say, we’re no longer together.

Anyways, at my polling place, I was the 32 person to slide the ballot into the machine. That’s a far better amount of voters – one per minute (I voted at 6:30a.m.) but I don’t know if the rest of the day will stay that steady. As I filled out the ballot, turned it in and got my “I Voted” sticker, I thought about all of the people who have fought so hard for me to walk into the fire station and fill in some circles. From the Tea Party to the woman’s suffrage movement; from my cousin in the Air Force to men and women I had never met but were willing to put their life on the line; from the campaign managers who put endless hours into campaigns encouraging me to “rock the vote” to my local paper providing the information on candidates and polling places. Hundreds, thousands and millions of people fought – some with pen, some with blood – for me to be able to get this sticker. I wonder what they would say with only 2 voters in two hours? I bet a few tears would fall.

But, at times, we can only do what we can do. I can only vote once. I can wear my sticker with pride and I can encourage you to go out and submit your ballot but I can’t vote for you. Take a few minutes today and head to the polls. You’re making a difference – especially in local elections such as these. After all, don’t vote – don’t complain.

Today, I have to admit, I’m exhausted. Waking up at 5a.m. was no fun. But I’m so glad and thankful that, wearing my dress and heels, I was able to walk into the polling place and cast my opinion on what my community’s future should look like. It wasn’t that long ago that women were denied this right. It’s my duty as a woman, a leader, a community citizen, a young professional, a cousin of a solider in the Air Force, a daughter of a Forest Preserve Board member (my dad was on the ballot!) and an American citizen to earn that sticker.

I’ve got my sticker… how ’bout you?

-Caitlin

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~ by caitlinludwig on April 5, 2011.

2 Responses to “Rock The Vote”

  1. Good points, Caitlin. If anyone ever wants to hear how it’s your municipality and not the state or feds that have the most impact on your day to day life, call me 🙂 Your elected officials decide how fast you can drive on local roads, whether or not to have ice cream trucks – hey, it’s an important issue in Machesney ;), whether to finance large-scale, multi-million redevelopment projects that may increase your sales tax at your favorite local stores, etc.
    Regardless of how excited I am to vote or whether or not I want to do it, I do it. If people don’t want to vote, well, thank you very much, you just made my vote 10 times more important than it had to be.

  2. Excellent entry – why complain if you are not willing to do anything about it?! The mentality of complacency or apathy is exactly why there is such a negative view about politics in general. I also agree that it is commiserable that we do not take local elections more seriously and that they are so overlooked. For the life of me I cannot understand why people don’t take advantage of their chance to send their leaders a message. From having prominent roads fixed, to city ordinances which effect businesses and public services funding – these all DIRECTLY effect our daily lives and the development of the region. If Rockford is going to continue to improve its image, it will be up to the young adults – coupled with social/objective political enthusiasm – to bring it (in my opinion).

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