I am the child of an immigrant who came to this country to embrace the opportunity to vote. She was so proud that she forever displayed the small American flag presented to her the day of her naturalization and swearing-in ceremony.
She even saved a clipping from the local newspaper announcing her name with dozens of other graduates to the small community.
America was a dream come true for her. Her vote — her proxy voice — would help shape a nation, her world and the world of her children.
She’d stepped off a ship’s gangplank in New York City and onto the soil where casting a vote meant something real.
I’ve never forgotten the joy in her storytelling voice when she told me about America as if it existed in some faraway place, across deep oceans and beyond the tallest mountains.
It was a land where your dreams could come true, where you could disagree with elected officials without fear of being swept away in the dark of night, or simply one day disappear, and no one went looking for you.
The truth is, America was outside the screen door waiting for me to carry the torch and make my dreams come true.
I consider one’s vote among the most sacred trusts we share as Americans. I know my mother did. To waste one’s opportunity to participate in government was to discount the sacrifices made by those who came ahead of you.
As Americans, we should fight to defend the power of our vote, making every effort to count — or hear — the proxy voice of the people. To do anything other than expand everyone’s legal opportunity to cast a valid ballot is not only criminal, but immoral.
If we’ve learned one thing in our 244 years, the more people we get under the tent, the better the outcome. Eliminating poll taxes, property ownership requirements, as well as race and gender obstacles, underscores our self-correcting nature. While at times admittedly slow to change, we do eventually move forward. And I’ll be the first to admit we’ve more road ahead.
But my faith is anchored in a democratic process promoting the broader accessibility to casting one’s vote. I believe the more people we can get under our tent, the more likely we can sort out our differences. And by having civil discussions absent of name-calling and personal attacks, we can make effective changes.
I am highly suspect of anyone trying to eliminate or reduce the voice of the people. And to do so is to undermine our God-given right to self-govern and self-determine.
If this election is about anything, it is that every qualifying vote cast should count. We, the people, owe this to those who not only came before us but those who will follow.
I am not interested in who you cast a vote for; I am, however, deeply committed to your vote counting.
As for me, I owe it to my mom to vote and help America reach its fullest potential.