Itzel Santiago Pastrana
People From Our Community Who Inspire Us: March to the Ballot Box, March for Change
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
It’s Tuesday, election day. News outlets are reporting that we are reaching record voting numbers this 2020 election, with twice as many pre-election votes compared to the 2016 election. In Washington State as of October 31, 2020 we had 3,292,135 mail in ballots.
This last week in the Seattle area, there was “March to the Ballot Boxes.” These marches were put together by community members active in the Black Lives Matter movement and brought people together as a collective to march to drop boxes all over town and drop off one's ballot. People joined to help spread the message of the importance of voting and support those who were dropping off their ballot. Starting on Monday, a group of people met at the University Heights Center and marched through UW’s ‘ave’ to the ballot box. The group had team members helping maintain a safe march through the streets while group leaders that led the chants spoke words of empowerment to vote. These same leaders also provided knowledge and history of the Black Lives Matter movement and the importance of voting. One such leader that day was Katie Neuner.
Katie Neuner has been protesting on behalf of Black Lives Matter throughout 2020. She has used both her platform and knowledge to help the cause, educate others, and encourage people to come out and march. She is active everyday, either in person or on social media.
Listening to Katie speak as she leads brings me hope that people are once again ready to stand up together to create actual change. That we won’t just listen to what the mass media's ideology is trying to convince us is normal. In fact, when the mass media began reporting about concerns of a pandemic hurting this year's election or when the president threatened to postpone it, people showed up to prove the media and the president wrong. Voters went to the polls early to cast their votes, some waiting in long lines due to safety protocols set up to provide safe voting during the pandemic. People are determined to vote this year no matter what: even eligible voters who are outside the country have cast their votes for this year's 2020 election.
While talking to Katie, she spoke about the importance of voting and of local elections. She spoke about how it is our prosecutors, district representatives, and local officials who make the changes that we feel in our daily lives. And, while voting is important, it is also important to stand up against injustice and for equality. “The system now works as a well oiled machine, and it doesn't matter if you have a black president when you still have people being murdered by police. The issues don’t go away. Taking it to the streets is important because this country was founded off of protests, and many of the things we benefit from today are from protesting.” Katie also emphasized how we can't expect this presidential election to change everything, regardless of who wins. To this day, we still haven’t gotten justice for many of the people we originally took to the streets for. For example, we are still fighting for Rodney King and Breonna Taylor.
Currently, the media reports conflicting information about who is leading, based on polls or opinion, with Biden ahead in one article and then Trump ahead in another. Some voters are confident that their candidate is doing well, according to polls or because their state might historically swing one way or another, so they may feel they don’t need to vote. Others might feel discouraged still from the 2016 election and might not believe their vote matters.
To these people I want to say this: early poll numbers and trends about states that swing historically one way or another don’t guarantee anything. The fact remains that we are in this together and we need you to vote because your vote matters -- not just in the Federal Elections, but also in your local elections. Katie spoke to years and years of a system built from oppression and that the only way to enact change, at the very minimum, is to vote, and most importantly, to continue demanding change from your elected officials to keep those in power accountable.
So if you haven’t already voted and you are eligible to vote, it’s not too late to vote today. You can visit your county’s elections department for information on how to do so.