Better ______ Takes Voting
By Erin Gaines, KEEN Effect Advocacy Manager
I remember the first time I voted. I even remember referring to it as “the time I got to vote!” I was a freshman in college in Wisconsin. It was a mid-term election in November 2002, and I don’t even remember the issues or the candidates. I’m sure I could Google it and find the results. I lived in a dorm on campus, I voted at the student union, and I felt like a real, patriotic adult.
That was just the beginning of my love of government and civic engagement. I’ve now been working in politics and policy for almost 10 years. I’ve canvassed neighborhoods (yes, I was the one knocking on doors and asking about issues and candidates). I’ve made hundreds of Get Out the Vote calls, spoken at neighborhood association meetings about local issues, helped develop federal legislation, and most recently I encouraged people to make their voices heard in KEEN’s Call to Action phone booth (which makes it quick and easy to call your Senators or Representative about issues you care about).
At times—OK, sometimes more often than not—the national, state, and even local politics can seem daunting and out of control, and it can feel like one voice doesn’t even matter. I totally get it, but I disagree and here’s why…
On that cold November day in Wisconsin, I may have been just one of thousands of students lining up between classes to vote, and only one of millions of voters in the country, and maybe my vote didn’t matter that much. But, just two years before I cast my first vote, the presidential election results were contested, and the vote count became the subject of legal action that went all the way to the Supreme Court. In the end, President Bush won by just one electoral vote. Had Bush supporters decided to stay home, the results might have been much different. Had more Gore voters gone to the polls, the results might have been much different. It wasn’t quite like the 2008 dramedy, Swing Vote, where the result of the presidential election came down to Kevin Costner’s character and his single vote, but hopefully you get the idea.
If I had stayed home, on that day in 2002, and thousands or millions of others stayed home, too, our voices would have been absent from the conversation, our future left up to others who don’t know or understand the needs of our families, our businesses, and our communities.
The sad reality is that voter turnout in the U.S. is super low—about 55% in the 2016 presidential election. And according to a Pew Research Center study, 15% of people polled said they didn’t vote because they didn’t think their vote would make a difference. But if I had stayed home, on that day in 2002, and thousands or millions of others stayed home, too, our voices would have been absent from the conversation, our future left up to others who don’t know or understand the needs of our families, our businesses, and our communities. So, while it may feel like my voice, my one vote doesn’t matter, if you were to add up all the one, single votes of people who think their voices don’t matter, that suddenly becomes a lot of voices and a lot of votes. A perfect example of the power in numbers.
Every vote counts in November
This November 6, there’s a midterm election, which means it’s midway through a 4-year Presidential term. Every single member of the U.S. House of Representatives and 1/3 of the U.S. Senators will be elected in November. If you read or watch the news, you’ve probably heard that this is a big election year, with lots of changes possible to policies related to taxes, trade, environmental issues, immigration, and healthcare. There’s so much happening in Washington, D.C. and across the country, in every town, city, and state, so this is a great year and a great time to get engaged or stay engaged.
Now, you might be asking yourself, “Why does KEEN care if I vote? Don’t they just make shoes?” Well, we do make shoes, but we make shoes to make a difference. We think that speaking up about the issues you care about is so important, and we want to make it easy for our community to use their voices and votes to make a difference. That’s why we launched our Better Takes Action campaign earlier this year, to encourage our fans to find their “better,” and take action to make it happen.
How you can make a difference
We’re encouraging people to take action for the things they care about in a couple of ways:
• The new KEEN Digital Call to Action phone booth is now LIVE! As our Call to Action phone booth has traveled across the U.S., you may have had the chance to get in and make a call. Now, you can do that from the comfort of your own home, while walking the dog, or on your lunch break. Visit the digital booth now and start dialing!
• We’ve partnered with Headcount, a non-partisan organization that promotes civic engagement, primarily through voter registration and outreach at music festivals across the country. We’ve joined forces with Headcount at music festivals, and we’re helping to get people registered to vote! We think civic engagement is at the core of our democracy, and we want our fans to embrace every opportunity to have their say.
• The first step is to make sure you are registered to vote! All you have to do is visit https://www.headcount.org/verify-voter-registration/, enter your state and follow the link to find out if and where you are already registered to vote.
• If you aren’t registered to vote yet, visit https://www.headcount.org/registertovote to get registered and get all those warm & fuzzy patriotic feelings!
• VOTE!! If you still need more reason, see above for explanation!
As we say at KEEN, if you want a better weekend, get out there and make it happen; If you want better places to play, help protect those places; And if you want a better ____________ (fill in the blank with your values), then get out and vote to ensure your representatives hear you and accurately represent YOU!
So get out there and REGISTER, then get out there and VOTE!