Category: Voting & Government

Voting: An Important Issue for Everyone

Vote ButtonHas it really been four years since our last Presidential election? Somehow I find that hard to believe but it’s true, and once again we need to start thinking about who we want to vote for.

Whether you are strongly committed to a specific candidate or not quite sure yet who you want in office, we all need to be registered to vote and start paying attention.

For people with disabilities, it is especially important to vote not only for the President, but also in state and local elections. A new official in office can make budget changes that effect services like job coaching or residential staff. Or maybe there are other issues that are really important to you like education or the environment.

Whatever the issue may be, you need to decide what is important to you in making the world a better place.

Choosing an issue

Sometimes choosing an issue that we are passionate about is overwhelming, as I learned when teaching at Suffolk last spring. I asked my business students in their first class to share with me what the most important issue was to them in the next Presidential election and I was surprised to see many of them actually needed suggestions.

Growing up in the 70s, this was a bit of a concern.

Now this was a bright, involved, 20- something group of students but what I realized is they had never been encouraged to really think about social issues that affect their lives. Maybe it is because the media chooses the issues they think are important for us, and we just follow along.

Getting ready to vote

Voting ballot
That’s where education and general discussion comes in. If you haven’t already, you can easily find out how to register to vote. The website, https://registertovote.org/forms/register/registration/massachusetts.html, in fact will give you the information you need.

But more important, you need to start thinking about the issues that mean something to you and talk about it. Talk to your family, friends, coworkers, anyone whose opinion you respect and make some decisions about how you want things to go in the world.

Then look at the candidates running for office, their websites can be very helpful, and decide who will make the world a better place, in your opinion.

This month, we will learn about a panel discussion being coordinated by DDS to help educate people with disabilities about how to vote, how to choose and why it is important. You will hear from Rick Camara who is coordinating the event and is passionate about getting people out to vote.

If we start doing our homework now, come November, we will be educated voters. And then maybe we will see changes in the world that we can be proud of.

So the Elections are over, now what?

It’s November 3rd, elections are over and you voted. You should feel proud, but have you thought about how you plan to stay active as a civic member of your community?

At this point, you may be thinking that your vote was enough. After all, elections are a lesson in patience and we are all thrilled to see the end of automated phone calls during dinner and negative ads when we were just trying to watch Glee.

But if you really want to be part of your community, you have to do more than just vote. Being an active citizen means paying constant attention to issues that affect all of us. This includes issues for people with disabilities, but it also includes issues that affect the broader community you live in.

Choosing issues that matter to you

There are basically two types of issues you may want to be aware of in your town and state.

First, there are issues specifically affecting the disability community. A reduction in state taxes for example will cut services, which is an important issue that requires your attention.

At the same time, you want to remember that you are also a member of a broader community with additional issues.
Planning on getting older? A proposed senior center may be something you hope to use someday.
Do you have a dog? You may be concerned about having more dog parks.
Can’t afford housing in the town you want to live in? Groups committed to affordable housing may be something to join.

Committed members of your community

This month, we will hear from John Anton an active civic member of his community. John understands the need to pay attention to issues affecting the disability community and the broader community because he is committed to both.

We will also hear from Andrea Kelly about the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization committed to educating people on important community issues that matter well beyond the elections. In addition, Andrea shares her thoughts about a number of ways you can get involved in your community.

lone goldfish jumping into tank with other goldfishIt’s November 3rd and you should be proud if you voted. But let’s take some time this month to also think about how you can be an active member of your community in the year ahead. .. and more importantly, why you may want to.