So you’re thinking about not bothering to vote…

Photo by Hill Street Studios/Getty Images.

Well, it’s decision time folks. The end to early voting for the 2022 Midterms is fast approaching and the November 8th election looms large. There are weighty decisions that Americans must make this November, and every one of us will be making one whether we choose to make our way to the voting booth, or we tap out and say that our vote won’t make a difference.

For those who choose the latter, nothing could be further from the truth. You see, all that happens when you don’t participate in the democratic process is that you strengthen the position of the person least likely to represent your interests.

So not voting is actually a vote of sorts.

You see, someone will be making a decision about whether women have autonomy over their bodies. Someone will decide whether working Americans should have a living wage. Your elected representative will help determine whether a 15-year-old can have access to an automatic rifle, or whether it is all right to attack elected representatives if you don’t like how they legislate. Someone will decide how police officers will treat citizens under arrest, or in distress.

Whichever party wins in November will decide whether you or your parents receive social security and how much. Elected congressmen and women will determine whether we pursue clean energy, or whether we aid Ukraine in its battle against tyranny. Local elected officials will determine what children are allowed to learn in our school system, and they will decide how much to invest to ensure all children get a sound basic education. They will even determine where parks and housing developments are built, how roads and infrastructure will be maintained, and whether there will be affordable housing in your city.

There is no perfect candidate. Every one of them has some kind of flaw because each of them is human. You are not going to agree with every stance a politician may take. You may even feel that all the possible candidates are inadequate. But one of those candidates on the slate will have sway over your life for the next several years, and the decisions they make may possibly influence the next several decades. Do you want to leave the decision about who holds the power to others? Or do you want to have a voice in who runs your community? Because someone will.

Make your voice heard. VOTE IN THE NOVEMBER MIDTERM ELECTION!

(You can register and vote during One-Stop Early voting, which ends November 5 at 3 p.m. throughout North Carolina. Election Day is November 8th. Go to your local Board of Elections website to determine dates, times, and locations for early and election-day voting in the state and county where you live.)

Commentator Mildred Robertson is a public relations professional with a background that includes more than 30 years of leadership in management, government and public relations.This post appeared originally on her blog “Just Sayin’.”

Don’t play into Trump’s voter suppression scheme: Complete the census

As Americans struggle with the COVID-19 outbreak, attacks on our democracy by a sitting president, racial unrest, the militarization of law enforcement, and gridlocked legislative bodies, many do not have time to think about how the next 10 years will play out in American democracy.

But we must. You see, in 2020 America must collect data to determine how it will divide its limited resources for the next 10 years.

Little is being said about the 2020 census of late as the nation’s airwaves are dominated by the president’s mindless press conferences, a deadlocked Congress that cannot implement any useful legislation and police militarization against peaceful protesters. Granted, these are all topics that need and deserve the public’s attention. However, the 2020 census is as important, if not more important, than any of these challenges. In fact, the successful implementation of the census will have an impact upon all these issues.

Many minorities are wary of the census, fearing that “Big Brother” is trying to keep tabs on them. It is an understandable fear, but one that is being used to suppress much needed minority participation in the process. You see, the census helps determine how federal dollars will be used in local communities.

That means that an undercount in your community may mean that vital community services won’t get the dollars they need to support improvement in city services. It may mean that you don’t get a city council person to represent your area. It may mean that potholes in your community don’t get fixed. You might be denied a congressional representative. There might not be a public school or hospital built in your community. Maybe you will end up with fewer fire stations than you need. You might not have a public works department that can adequately maintain your streets, or pick up your trash. The census affects things like youth programs, senior meals, healthcare and housing assistance.

So if you care about the conditions you live in…if you care about your community…then you care about the census. You see, in 2010, the last time a census was taken, conservatives were the majority in most statehouses around the country. The data collected in the census is used to determine how many national and state legislators will be apportioned to your community. Because the legislature in most states were empowered to craft district lines, they were able to use the data from 2010 to draw voting districts that placed all the power in their hands across much of the country. It is called gerrymandering. These gerrymandered districts resulted in political districts drawn in such a way that only one party benefited. By drawing lines with conservative voters in the majority, they were able to sweep statehouses across the country and to win majorities in the United States Congress and statehouses nationwide.

If you want to have an impact on how your community is governed, you need to fill out the census. Donald Trump will not be sending his goons to your door. The census will not trigger a follow-up on a delinquent ticket or warrant. It is not a way to determine whether undocumented people are in your home. You do not have to talk to the census taker who knocks on your door. You can fill out the census form on the internet. It only takes a few minutes. The questions are not overly invasive.

A depressed census is the Number One voter suppression technique. Don’t let your love of privacy or fear of an overreaching government keep you from participating in this vital activity. Just like voting, participating in the census is the duty of every American and it is the privilege of every resident. Make sure your community is rightfully reflected in the 2020 Census so that the distribution of resources over the next 10 years will meet your community’s needs. Visit my2020census.gov to fill out your census questionnaire. Please, do it today.

Mildred Robertson is a veteran public relations professional whose background includes more than 30 years of leadership in management, government and public relations. She lives in Raleigh.