Voting Matters, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall

The first election that I can remember, I was four years old and I was accompanying my dad to go vote for our state representative and for our member of Congress. He brought me into the voting booth and I helped him pull down the levers as together we voted for who would represent our district. It all came full circle when I went to the city hall in Newton, Massachusetts to register to vote as soon as I turned 18, when I led voter registration efforts in college or when my dad and I went to my former elementary school to vote this past November. Through voting, I could be actively engaged in the political process and participate in the most basic right (and rite!) of democracy.

There may not be any active election or race going on at the moment, but we cannot forget the importance of voting or the impact that voting can have. Every vote counts. And every vote has a defining role to play as we consider our agenda. I was always taught that voting is one of the most important democratic rights that we have as Americans. Through voting, we can let ourselves be heard and can truly have a say in our government. “If you are able to vote and don’t vote, you can’t complain,” my mom says whenever the election comes around, because voting is one important way for us to illustrate our commitment to policy issues that we care most about.

America was founded on the bedrock of civil engagement. But for me, voting is not just an embodiment of what it means to be an American; voting is also an act steeped in my Jewish values. We learn from Rabbi Hillel that we must not be separated from the community (Pirkei Avot 2:4). Voting is a way of connecting as part of something larger than ourselves. Since our elected leaders represent our communities, voting demonstrates our dedication to where we live and what type of a place we want our communities to be. Our tradition also calls on communities to play active roles in consulting leaders (Babylonian Talmud, B’rachot 55a). We are collectively responsible to choose our leaders, and we cannot take this responsibility lightly.

Nor can we take it for granted. We also still need to do much more work to ensure that all Americans have the right to vote. This year, we commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march for voting rights in Selma, AL, reminding us of the sacrifice and hard work that went into the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Countless Americans face complications and restrictions as they attempt to make their voices heard at the ballot box. These restrictions must fuel our desire and our motivation to not just get out to vote, but to do all that we can to ensure that all Americans can let their voices be heard. Join us by urging your Members of Congress to restore voting rights!

There may not be any elections currently going on, but we cannot forget the importance of voting. Take action to ensure that all Americans can vote, and get registered to vote now so that when elections come around, you can also let your voice be heard.

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Melanie Fineman

About Melanie Fineman

Melanie Fineman is a 2014-2015 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the RAC. She graduated from Brown University in 2014 and is originally from Newton, Massachusetts, where she is a member of Temple Shalom of Newton.

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