By Anais Rosenblatt
Obviously, we all know that we should vote. This is something that lingers in the back of our minds as politics plays out as a sideshow to our actual lives. After months of crazy media coverage and a confusing primary, this was the extent to which I was involved in this election. I knew I had to vote… eventually… when the time came. It was around June, after primary season was winding down and the party conventions were quickly approaching, that this election became real to me. I spent the summer organizing around immigration reform. Everyday I would meet people who could not vote and to whom the result of this election meant the ability to remain in this country. I sat across the table from kids who were scared to file their DACA paperwork, which would have given them security and benefits, for fear of an executive that would use the very information on this paperwork to find and deport them. Okay… I really have to vote.
Upon returning to school in the fall, I realized that the election was just two months away and that it was time to ask for my absentee ballot. So, I go on the Florida elections website and type my information into the login page: Voter status: invalid. My parents had moved around a lot after I left for college, and I knew that my registration was outdated. I figured that by voting at an old address, I was probably committing some sort of voter fraud, but at least my vote would be counted. No! They know, and your vote would get invalidated. Your vote is also invalid if your registration doesn’t match your address on your driver’s license (which it’s illegal not to change right after you move… who knew?). So here I am, paying $25 for an updated license (a pretty steep poll tax, in my opinion). By the time I receive it, it is literally the last day to register in Florida and getting through to the voter registration office is nearly impossible. Then, miraculously, a hurricane (ironically heading straight towards my hometown and district) is announced and the voter registration deadline gets extended. I call the registration office at 7am from the floor of my bathroom and finally update my registration and request an absentee ballot.
With my ballot in the mail, I was able to wind down and relax, but this election was not winding down. The huge lead we had all expected Hillary to take by now had never happened. We were facing an actual close election. This is how I found myself up at 6am getting ready for a long day of canvassing in “nearby” Iowa. Three hours in the back of a bus, lots of spilled coffee, and a little motion sickness later, we were roaming the unknown streets of Davenport. This is one of the most contested districts in the country, and we were horrified to realize that half of the houses on every street had signs up for third party candidates. These were not the blue Chicago streets we were used to. I went door to door, most people weren’t home, but a few did answer. I talked to them, gave them information, and urged them to go vote. I don’t know if I actually changed anyone’s voting plans, but at least there are a few voters out there who feel that Hillary really needs and wants their individual vote, helped then feel as if they matter is this crazy election.
So, here we are on the morning of Election Day. I voted, I canvassed, and I’ve been outspoken about my political views. I would like to think that as an individual I have had an impact on this election. Even if you’re not a college student surrounded with opportunities to get involved, you can also have an impact on this election. I can’t stress enough how important it is that everyone votes today. As for me, I’m going to spend the afternoon glued to the TV screen with a tub of ice cream (and maybe something stronger) hoping that in a couple of days I can still wake up to a free country that I can love and be proud of.