By Anna Whitney, Digital Director
Anyone who knows me knows that voting is basically my favorite thing ever. I love that every year — like this one! — there’s an election in November, so I get to celebrate my birthday by participating in my favorite civic duty.
The one bad thing about my November birthday is that I didn’t turn 18 until six days after Election Day in 2008. I was devastated; I couldn’t believe that my birthday meant I couldn’t cast my ballot for President Barack Obama. I called the Secretary of State to see if there was any loophole, but nope. I could get registered, but I couldn’t vote until the next election. I stayed up late on election night in my dorm room, biting my nails and watching the election results roll in. Like many Americans, I was so happy and proud that President Obama won.
Unfortunately, like a lot of young Texans, I didn’t know that non-presidential elections even existed. (That’s why I’m glad Battleground Texas registers students in high schools all over the state and informs them about all upcoming elections!) So I didn’t cast my first ballot, for President Obama, until 2012.
In 2014, I started to become active in politics after seeing Wendy Davis’s filibuster for women’s health care. I was so inspired by all of those who came out to support women’s rights — I had found my progressive family. Until then, I had felt isolated because it seemed like the state was extremely Republican. It wasn’t until 2014 that I learned one of the reasons why — Republicans’ voter ID law disenfranchises so many voters and keeps Republicans in power.
Among other things about our state, I wanted systematic voter disenfranchisement to change. I made it a goal to vote every single election. I also promised myself that I would talk to my friends, family, and coworkers about voting. I even got my mom to get deputized to register voters!
Now, I vote in every single election. On the first day of Early Voting, in fact! There’s no better gift than making your voice heard. Find your polling place and make a plan to become a voter today.