As it nears November 3rd, the amount of media advertising the election-- who to vote for, what websites to use to research, when to turn in your ballot-- is increasing exponentially. I wanted to take a moment to discuss why voting is important, how to do it as stress free as possible, and how to have tolerance against the vitriol that often is hand-in-hand with the subject. Further, we at Totally Social ASD are NOT here to promote any platforms, candidate, or ideology. That is a personal decision that should be made based on your own beliefs and research.
Importance of Voting:
Is there a reason to vote? After all, we hear so much about the electoral college and how one single vote, especially in an area that is already dominantly red or blue, will not make a difference. And, perhaps, on a very surface level of probability, one vote will not change who wins the election. However, there is still a lot of sway on how your vote and voice does create an impact. For starters, in the 2016 presidential election, only 58.1% of eligible voters actually cast their vote. Of this, the majority of voters are 30 years or older. In some counties, the difference between the vote was in terms of tens of thousands, and to break it down even further, any state or local election has even less votes (smaller population and less interest in voting). This means that if the other 41.9% of people voted, the totals would better reflect the entire demographic of the country, and not just the specific group who tends to vote more. As someone under 30, I vote because I do not see a lot of problems related to young people get a lot of attention. I vote in local elections where there are only a few thousand votes because I truly could make a difference. And I vote in the big elections because it makes me feel better. That is one aspect of voting that many people do not give a lot of time-- that having control over your decision, having a say in what happens to your government, can give you a sense of freedom and comfort, whether or not your candidate wins.
Ways to Vote:
- In person
- Mail in
- Drop off
- Mail in
Kindness, Empathy, and Tolerance:
Have you been on Twitter lately? Facebook, TikTok, Instagram? Or, even more poignant, have you watched the news? Any channel will do. I am not old enough to have voted in any other presidential election, but I do know that this one has a lot of animosity, fear, and pain associated with it. Many people are still struggling with money due to the shutdowns and medical bills due to COVID, a lot of families have lost someone, and in general, the political sphere has been emotionally charged. It is hard to go on social media and not see something that turns your stomach, or makes your heart leap into your throat with fear. Nothing is consistent, and it is hard to trust anything from either side. I get it. But what I see everyday that I know we can work on individually is how to have a constructive conversation, when to let a subject drop, and to take a moment to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Looking at other perspectives can be hard for autistic people, and for most people, honestly. However, how can we expect to have unity in the United States of America if we do not listen to others? If we do not care about our neighbors? Here are some pointers for keeping a conversation or debate from becoming an argument or destructive event.
- Speak with a normal tone. Try not to let yourself start yelling or using violent language.
- Let the other person speak without interrupting. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
- It is okay to drop the subject. If someone will not back down and you feel yourself getting overwhelmed or too emotional, it is okay to say “I see your point, but I am ready to change the topic”
- Patience and tolerance. You can’t change someone’s mind immediately, or sometimes at all.
- Empathy. Why do they have this opinion? Has someone near them been hurt or affected by this? There are two sides to every story.
- Am I hurting anyone with my opinion? Sometimes it pays to take a step back and think about your stances. Are they truly yours? Are they attacking any one person or group? Is this okay?
Here are some resources to help with voting and research! Good luck :)
Written by Katy Evans