Vote.

Vote. As redundant as it may sound with everyone and their grandmothers tweeting at their fellow Americans to vote in the upcoming election, this year, voting remains an important and necessary duty. We are not just talking about the presidential election. Voting goes beyond deciding the next commander-in-chief of our country; it allows each of us to choose the officials that represent us at the local level and gives us the chance to voice our opinion on upcoming changes to our communities. From how much we pay in taxes to how our public schools are run, government at the local level controls many aspects of our daily lives. The outcome of a local election is just as likely to directly affect your life as the outcome of the national election.

Voting is always crucial, and this year the act feels even more critical as citizens face a deadly pandemic, the growing threat of climate change and the injustices perpetrated again and again against Black Americans. Voting is neither an instant solution to these problems nor is it the only type of activism needed from every citizen. The wheels of government turn slowly, but in addition to protesting, donating and advocating in our own communities for change, voting is a necessary step to exert our political will on a system that desperately needs change. We, the editorial board of The Brandeis Hoot, urge any eligible voters in the greater Brandeis community to exercise their right to vote and register to vote in the upcoming general election.

Even if your right to vote has been infringed by gerrymandering, an outdated electoral college or a slow mail-in ballot system, your vote still holds the potential for change. It is important to look beyond the breakdown of the electoral college from the presidential election to the local level. Many states that may lean Democractic or Republican during the presidential election may look very different at the state level when you take a closer look at the distribution of votes at the district level. Districts can be dominated by one political party while the state leans towards another. By exercising your right to vote, you can potentially help flip a district in future elections. As the late Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said: “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”

While voting may seem intimidating at first, Brandeis has plenty of resources to assist both absentee and local voters in getting in their ballots in time. Brandeis recently established the VoteDeis Campus Coalition—a nonpartisan coalition of administrators, faculty and students to help encourage and ease voting for members of the Brandeis community. The webpage includes a link to Vote.org, which provides information on how to vote in your state. Both Professor Anita Hill (AAAS/LGLS/HS/WGS) and Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz authored short videos on the importance of voting, particularly during this election cycle.

“Despite women having the right to vote 100 years ago, in Oklahoma, Black women lacked the license to vote until 1939 when a Supreme Court ruling ended the state’s application of a grandfather clause,” said Hill in the video. “That clause was enshrined in law to disenfranchise Blacks and Native Americans. At this 100 year anniversary, I vote for my mother and my grandmothers, as well as for my father and grandfathers. For all of the years they couldn’t vote, I vote.”

Brandeis also has several other resources for voters. The Brandeis library has a voter’s guide with information on how to vote in every state on the library’s website. The Dean of Students Office offers information on how to become a poll worker as well as how to vote—for those interested in being even more involved with our electoral process. Finally, Brandeis’ sociology department has a page with answers to several frequently asked questions about the voting process. 

At time of printing, there are 39 days left until election day: Nov. 3, 2020. We urge you to remember and research your local elections as well as the national election. This year, as more and more challenges block eligible voters from reaching the ballot box—physically or by mail—it is all the more important to vote early, particularly if you are voting absentee. Earlier this year, the post office warned over 40 states that delayed mail-in ballots could disenfranchise voters, according to The Washington Post. The earlier a ballot is mailed, the more likely that said ballot will make it to the voting box.

As a student newspaper, we pride ourselves on being a part of a small microcosm of democracy in our own Brandeis community. We get to cover student union elections, hold our leaders accountable and shed a light on the achievements of Brandeis students, faculty, administrators and staff. This fall, we encourage you to voice your opinion on our national and local democracies—we encourage you to vote.

Editor’s Note: Opinions Editor Sasha Skarboviychuk did not contribute to this editorial.

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