They’re counting on you to not show up to vote

They’re counting on you to not show up to vote
February 27
09:55 2020

By Howard Pearre

“They are powerful and they are COUNTING ON YOU!”

This is what I told the class of high school students. Some actually began paying attention.

“They’re counting on you being too busy. Or not getting off work. Or not having a ride. Or not being sure who you like, so you’ll let somebody else decide.”

A few more looked up.   

“They’re counting on you thinking the system is rigged, so what’s the use? Or thinking it doesn’t matter anyway. Or thinking you need a picture ID even though you actually don’t this time.

“They’re counting on you being overwhelmed by so many candidates. Or not knowing what the down-ballot races are all about. Or not having time to research the candidates to make a good choice. Or being disgusted by all the partisanship and negativity. Or getting mad that somebody said something mean about somebody. Or thinking your vote won’t count anyway.”

By now I had almost everyone’s attention. 

“It doesn’t matter to them. Any excuse will do, just as long as it KEEPS YOU FROM SHOWING UP.”

Now, everybody was tuned in.

“They are powerful and they DO NOT WANT YOU TO VOTE! They want you to NOT SHOW UP! They are counting on you NOT VOTING! They are going to throw up every roadblock you can think of.”

This is what I said to those high school students we were helping to pre-register so they would be fully registered as soon as they turned eighteen.

But my message may also apply to some other “seniors” (senior citizens, that is) you may know. 

On Tuesday, March 3, and next fall on Tuesday, Nov. 3, North Carolinians will have the awesome responsibility of determining the political futures of our cities, counties, state, and nation by choosing the leaders who will shape these futures.

“If you do not vote, you forfeit your right and neglect your responsibility to stand up and decide.”   

This is what I said.  

“If you allow one of hundreds of excuses to keep you from the voting booth, you will NOT BE DISENFRANCHISED. You will DISENFRANCHISE YOURSELF. And not only that, you will disenfranchise your family, your neighbors, your community.”

But for us senior citizens, there’s more.

We not only have the responsibility of casting our ballots. We seniors also have the responsibility of rolling up our sleeves and using our authority and influence as leaders.

Here’s how:

*Volunteer for voter registration drives through the League of Women Voters, the YouCanVote program, or even by yourself. If you need training on how to register voters, sign up with YouCanVote or other organizations that offer this. According to the NC State Board of Elections, any organization, group, or individual may conduct voter registration drives. Basic, common sense rules must be followed (see; however, no special training or permission is required.

*Volunteer to work with a local party or candidate by canvassing your neighborhood. Canvassing means knocking on doors to politely encourage voters to vote for a candidate or party’s candidates, provide information about polling places, use a smart phone on the spot to check to see if the voter is “active,” and assist others in the household to register if they need to do this. The first step is usually simply to show up at a candidate’s or party’s office to get a talking-points script and a list of registered voters of the candidate’s party. Then, you head to the neighborhood.

*Volunteer with the Forsyth County Board of Elections to serve as a precinct judge or assistant at a precinct polling place on Election Day. Judges and assistants go through Board of Elections’ training and receive pay. The day is long and the work is exacting, but this is where democracy’s rubber meets the road.

*Volunteer with a party or candidate to greet voters and hand out literature at a polling place or early voting site.   

*Volunteer with a party to be an observer. Observers monitor how judges manage voters inside the polls and report inappropriate behaviors (intimidation, attempts to influence voters, errors on the part of judges) to the chief judge or party officials.

Whether we’re still in high school or are a senior citizen, we can’t let those powerful forces be successful in their efforts to SUPPRESS OUR VOTES!

Howard Pearre is a member of Winston-Salem Writers, a past participant in SilverArts, and a judge for the 2020 SilverArts literary competition. He is also a volunteer coordinator with his political party.

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