Challenging, strange and painful. These are accurate descriptors of 2020.

To date, over 210,000 people in the United States have succumbed to COVID-19. The economic avalanche prompted by the pandemic has devastated many small businesses and individuals.

Families have not been able to mourn and celebrate the lives of loved ones who have died in the ways to which they are accustomed, honoring their sacred traditions. Many places of worship have had to shift from in-person worship to some form of technological means.

The nation is deeply divided along racial, theoretical, economical and ethical lines.

On top of all of this, we are in the throes of one of the most contentious presidential elections in modern history. Many are so exhausted and daunted that they are losing hope.

Young people are looking on in disbelief. Some have even suggested that their votes will not matter.

But before you join the “What’s the point?” club, consider the following reasons why we all should vote.

  1. Voting is your way of having a say.

When you cast your vote for presidential candidates, judges, council representatives and other elected officials, you are adding your voice of agreement or disagreement.

Your vote could literally change the course of history. When you neglect voting, you are voting by default.

  1. Voting is your responsibility as a citizen.

Everyone can complain. Everyone can talk about what is wrong. But when we vote, we participate in the election process.

When we don’t vote, we have no right to complain about the way things are. To be a responsible citizen is to take part in the process.

  1. Voting empowers you to help make a difference.

Speaking to the Hebrew people living in exile, God through the prophet Jeremiah urged them to “promote the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it because your future depends on its welfare.”

When we vote, we have an opportunity to promote, move forward and positively influence the places where we reside. Issues regarding health care, jobs, wages, fair and equal standards, diversity, immigration, the environment, education and so on all rely upon the voices of the people.

Congress is moved by their electorate. They represent us. When we don’t vote, we leave them to their own devices and those of the lobbyists. Then, money, not your best interests, governs.

  1. People died so we could vote.

Blood was shed. Bodies were beaten. People mobilized and marched. Individuals were attacked by dogs, blasted by water hoses, burned, lynched, humiliated, jailed – all so that all citizens in America would have the right to vote.

Voting rights were expensive to obtain. We must honor, be grateful for and appreciate this right, not only with words, but with the action of voting.

  1. People die unnecessarily when we don’t vote.

There are those who suggest that young people aren’t moved by the reality that people died for their right to vote. If you feel that way, you must consider that people are dying unnecessarily when you don’t vote.

We need your voices to help demolish antiquated, unjust, racist systems that perpetuate models of brutality and death. We need your votes to help improve upon and expand systems that show promise but need an overhaul.

You need to vote, if for no other reason, than that you should be concerned about the country and the planet that will be left for you.

  1. Your life depends upon it.

“Pray to the Lord for it because your future depends on its welfare,” Jeremiah told the Hebrew people.

Your future, our future and our welfare, our well-being, our prosperity, our health depends upon the communities, nation and world we build. In the U.S., that is determined by our vote.

Our prayers must be coupled with our action of voting. Some will argue that the Electoral College makes the determination and not our vote. But remember, the Electoral College is influenced by our vote. When we vote en masse, we can far surpass the 270 electoral votes for a president to win.

Also remember, the president is only one branch of a three-branch government. Even when our preferred leader does not win, we can still influence outcomes by having a balanced legislative branch.

So, use your voice. Vote!

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared on Smith’s blog, She Pastor. It was submitted for consideration by the author and is used with permission.

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