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Voter #134 and Proud

By Zinta Aistars

Head up, I walked into the polling booth of my precinct in Allegan County on August 7. This is always a moment of pride for me as I fill out my name at the door, collect my ballot, and head to the booth to fill in the circles to indicate my vote. Although I had carefully studied a sample ballot online prior to coming to the booth, I once again read each millage to be sure I wasn’t getting fooled by wording to vote one way rather than the other, the way I intended to vote.

The candidates, the millage votes, all affect me, affect my community in a big way. Numbers, sadly, for these in-between elections and primaries are often very low, yet these are the matters that often have the greatest influence over our everyday lives. On the ballot are opportunities to voice our support for our library, our seniors, our schools, our roads, our emergency services, and more. Why wouldn’t a resident want to have a say on all that?

If there is one aspect of voting that we all need to address—it’s apathy. Or feeling overwhelmed as someone who believes in “blue” causes in a “red county.” Don’t be. If you missed the primary vote, shake all that off and get yourself to your polling place in November. If all the people who don’t bother to vote voted—our country would be very different indeed.

As we neared this primary, I’ve gotten myself more involved in my community politics than I have ever before. While I have always voted since I turned 18, it’s become increasingly clear to me that just voting is not enough. We have to help our neighbors vote. We have to fight the good fight for the causes in which we believe.

When I attended a campaign volunteer meeting in past weeks, I met the chair of the Allegan Dems, Jill Dunham. She and other presenters, including some candidates, spoke to us about what it takes to be a volunteer and what the experience is like.

“I’m not in this for the politics. I’m in this for my community,” Dunham said. “We can’t just rest on the blue wave coming—we all want to make a difference, and together, we can.”

I listened to others who had already been beating the path to their neighbors’ doors, urging people to get out to vote, talk about their experiences. One young man spoke of being rather introverted, but found that knocking on doors was easier—and more pleasant—than he had expected. He found himself enjoying the exchanges with others, none of them negative.

“If someone is angry, they won’t come to the door,” he said. “If they come to the door, they want to talk, and they want to hear what you have to say.”

The overall lesson was that everyone wants to be heard, no matter from which side. And aren’t we all getting a bit tired talking about sides? Aren’t we all the main course? Listening to each other is a great place to start.

So I voted today. I was voter #134. I hope you voted, too. If you didn’t—don’t despair. There’s another election coming in November, the midterms, and you can feel as empowered then as I did today. You might even consider becoming a volunteer and making your voice count even more.

Zinta Aistars is a writer and editor at Z Word, LLC. She resides on a small farm in Allegan Township, and in June 2018, she decided it was time to join the ACDP and be counted.

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