Note: This post is focused on the United States election on November 3, 2020; however, many of the principles expressed are extremely relevant to all societies with free elections.
Every election year seems to inundate us with political discussions and topics. While most of those topics tend to split across “Red” and “Blue” party lines, one topic that is truly bipartisan—what I’ll call Purple—is exercising your right to vote. Everywhere you look this month, we’re being told to go out and vote, whether it’s from celebrities, streaming TV ads, social media platforms, unsolicited text messages, or even professional sports associations. I’m certainly no celebrity, but I do want to encourage everyone to cast their vote on Tuesday.
As we wrap up this final week of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the theme is “The Future of Connected Devices.” From a security perspective, voting systems are becoming more and more connected and require the utmost attention to preserve integrity in elections. But more importantly, voting is all about the future. It’s a chance to express your voice, and it’s an opportunity to recognize that we are all on the same team. Within cybersecurity, we know that more gets done when Red teams and Blue teams work together. This collaboration is known as purple teaming. And just like successful cybersecurity programs, voting isn’t Red or Blue … it’s Purple!
Did you know that only 61.4% of eligible voters voted in the 2016 election according to census records? Although this number may seem low, it is quite consistent over many years of elections. There may be several reasons for not voting, and it’s a personal choice. But if you find yourself choosing not to vote, I encourage you to reflect on how you would feel if you didn’t have the right to vote? How would you feel if outcomes were simply dictated to you, and you had no say in the matter (regardless of your opinion on the outcome)? That is true oppression.
Voting can often seem futile. What’s one vote among a whole country’s sea of votes? What difference does an individual vote make in the electoral college system? I’ve often said that you don’t have the right to complain if you didn’t vote. It sounds cliché, but one vote can make a difference. An individual vote won’t decide the presidential election, but it may influence local elections or other bonds, levies, etc., which have a direct impact on your daily life. Yes, voting is about issues and candidates, but it’s also about exercising your right to do so—a precious right. A right that many men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect.
Perhaps your vote for president feels slightly symbolic, especially if you live in a very Blue or very Red state, but your vote can make a huge impact in down ticket races. Don’t underestimate the value of your vote in deciding your local representation. It can be easy to get so caught up in the presidential race that you neglect to read up on the local candidates and any issues on the ballot in your area. Whenever or however you vote, prepare to make informed decisions on all the choices.
Politics on a grand scale makes the news, but local government has the most impact on our daily lives. Vote for your county commissioners, state senators, sheriffs, school board members, etc. These people impact the community in so many ways, and many of us don’t even know their names.
Americans as a society have enjoyed the right to vote for so long that it’s easy to forget that we are still in the minority of people around the world that get to participate in free elections. While the world is growing immensely more democratic with over half the world’s nations considered democracies, according to Pew Research Center, a majority of the world’s population still do not enjoy the level of democratic freedom we have in the US.
Despite vastly differing perspectives on how to do so, the public is engaged through voting in trying to make their nation a better place for everyone. Seize your opportunity to participate. Even if it doesn’t feel like your vote makes a difference, even if the candidates seem to represent the most extreme voices, vote because you can!