Voting to Honor My Family

Maureen Evans Arthurs ’13, Gender and Women’s Studies, was recently selected as one of just 10 U.S. college students to serve on the 2012–13 National Student Advisory Council for the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

Every vote counts; however, post-election buzz has a lot of people on the ‘other side’ grumbling that their vote didn’t matter. It did. If you took the time to exercise your constitutional right to vote for elected officials, it mattered on a local, state and even at a federal level. President Obama and Mitt Romney were not the only candidates on your ballot yesterday. Whether cast in person or mailed absentee, your vote determined the outcome of important amendments, ballot measures and the appointment of representatives in your home state. Of course, one votes with hope that their particular candidate will win; however, is that the only reason? Expressing your opinions and right to vote goes beyond who wins and who ‘loses’.

I voted to honor my family and those who came before me who never had the chance. My strong sense of political efficacy comes from an awareness of my own family’s experience, over generations, with being denied the right to vote.

Even after African Americans and women legally gained the right to vote, my mother and grandmother faced voter intimidation and suppression tactics: many of which, sadly, were used yesterday against minorities in multiple states. Humbly, it is incredibly empowering to me to essentially be the first in my family to have the birthright to walk up the street with my son and cast my ballot with no fear of retribution. I voted to express my views and also out of respect for those who came before me and who fought for this right.

Contact the author, Maureen Evans Arthurs, at mevansa1@umbc.edu.

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