When our nation’s founders established the United States of America, they made voting the centerpiece of our democracy.
They understood that your vote was your voice. It was the clearest way for the colonists to make themselves heard as our fledgling nation moved away from a monarchy to democratic self-rule.
It’s troubling to me that, in this greatest democracy on earth, today only about half of eligible voters actually go to the polls on Election Day.
In some years, it’s less than half.
In staying home, those who don’t vote allow others to determine the future.
They give up their voice on the important issues that impact their lives.
On the national level, this year’s mid-term elections are hotly contested, with starkly different visions for the direction of our country.
In our state elections for Senate, Assembly and Governor, those who don’t vote allow others to determine the level of funding for public education … how much effort should go into making healthcare more affordable … and the future of labor protections and policies that can make lives better for working families like you and I.
I’m especially worried about today’s young people, many of whom aren’t engaged as they should be. They should be excited to turn out and ensure their voice is heard, and not allow others to determine the future of our state and our nation for them.
Whether you lean towards crimson red or deep blue – or even purple – on the vast political spectrum, I urge you to become educated on the issues. I want you to consider your own values at work and at home … and to vote with your own best interests and the interests of your family in mind.
At NYSUT, we are not shy about expressing our values.
We skew towards those who are champions of public education, affordable healthcare and organized labor.
Those are the issues our union’s members care about most.
We are proud to endorse – and enthusiastically work for – those who candidates who will be our advocates in Albany and Washington … and who vote in ways they benefit middle class families – regardless of which political party they belong to.
This year, we are intently focused on electing those who would invest more in our public schools and colleges.
But that’s not all.
NYSUT is supporting candidates who want to reduce the state’s unhealthy obsession with standardized testing.
We are working to elect those who want to restore teacher evaluations to local control with no state mandates, while decoupling state tests from those evaluations.
And we are backing candidates who want to make college more affordable and accessible to all.
Those are our values.
While I hope that they are yours as well, I urge you … as Election Day nears … to ask yourself what matters most to YOU and YOUR family.
Become as educated as you can on the issues.
And, most importantly, participate in our democracy and make your voice heard by voting on Tuesday, November 6th.
Vote as if your future depends on it, because it does.
Andy Pallotta, a former elementary teacher, is president of the more than 600,000-member New York State United Teachers.
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