Opinion: I didn’t vote in 2016 — Here’s my reason why
Yes it’s true: I didn’t vote in the 2016 election.
Sometimes I still can’t believe I didn’t vote in that election. An international relations major who failed to make a decision in quite possibly one of the most important elections of our lifetime. I want to blame myself for not voting, but I can’t help but place my blame on the 14 incompetent legislators who failed me and most importantly our democracy back in 2013.
I feel the need to tell my story because voting is a fundamental component of our democracy and my voice wasn’t heard in the last election because of 14 legislators who decided my vote and others shouldn’t have been heard. A bill passed in 2017 made absentee voting easier — it was too little too late in my case.
It was the fall of 2016 and no one had told me how I could vote absentee. Was that my fault? Sure, I could’ve done more research on how to vote absentee, but I was a college freshman lost in the ways of finding my way around campus. Where were my classes located? How should I study for my first exam? How many swipes do I have left at the dining hall for the week? All reasonable issues for a college freshman.
When I did some research and found out that I needed a notary in order to request an absentee ballot, it was just too late to proceed in the complicated process. I called my parents to see if they could pick me up on election day and take me to vote (I didn’t have a car), but both had to work. I was out of options.
I want to explain House Bill 20 because this was the first piece of legislation introduced that provided an opportunity to change the absentee voting process in Delaware. It was first introduced on Jan. 17, 2013. The primary sponsor was (D-Del.) Earl Jaques Jr. The bill reported out of the House Administration Committee on March 13, 2013 on its merits.
The act would have removed the notary requirement when a person voted absentee, but it required an amendment to the Delaware constitution, which meant two-thirds majority was needed. Never did I think that the following vote would determine whether or not I had a say in the 2016 election.
House Bill 20 was defeated with 27 yes votes and 14 no votes. Please check out all the no votes. I am not swaying you to vote for any one individual or party, but please do your research as many are up for reelection in 2018. I am sure that I wasn’t the only person who didn’t vote in 2016 and attributed not voting to the outcome of House Bill 20. Legislators need to be held responsible for their votes.
I wondered why this year was so easy when I decided to vote absentee. What changed?
House Bill 47 passed in 2017 to finally make voting easier. Prior to this legislation, Delaware was the only state to require a notary to authorize a voter’s affidavit for an absentee ballot. In some cases, the potential voter may had to pay for the notary and Delaware essentially charged them to vote. Now, voters can request an absentee ballot online and mine was sent to me within a week.
While I am glad that Delaware passed House Bill 47 in 2017 and I just voted in my first General Election, there are so many Delawareans whose voices still need to be heard. We can do more. My hope is that we can make election day a federal holiday, achieve automatic voter registration and look at other ideas that will make voting easier, not harder.