Written by: Jorge Azpeitia
As a Social Justice Organizer on campus, part of our mission is to promote and create a campus where we celebrate and accept diversity and cultures. Another part of our mission is to create programs which are aimed to help individuals understand their identities and privileges which they may hold. One privilege that we hold as American citizens that we overlook or don’t find important, is the right to vote.
With debate season happening now and presidential elections coming up in November 2020, voting has never been so crucial with our current political climate. While voting for the presidential elections may be important, local elections are just as important and if not more important in how they impact us. As registered voters, we are able to elect our federal, legislative, and judicial candidates who are responsible for lawmaking within our country. This could include our Senators, Representatives, Governors, Mayors, Judges, members of the City Council, and the list goes on and on.
To give an example of who we elect can make a difference in our state, we can look at bills that elected Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has signed in just this year alone. In May of 2019, Inslee signed SB 5605, which allows every person convicted of marijuana possession who was over the age of 21 at the time of the offense, to apply to vacate their conviction record for the marijuana offense. Inslee also signed a bill that same month which, “guarantees financial aid for more than 110,000 qualified students in WA State to attend college for free or at a discounted rate.”
We are also able to vote on State Initiative Measures which we can approve or deny being enacted into laws and decide where our taxed income is being spent. Some Initiative Measures which were voter-approved from this past year include Initiative Measure No. 1631 which would charge pollution fees and use that revenue to reduce pollution and promote clean energy. Initiative Measure No. 1639 would require increased background check, training, age limitations, and waiting periods for sales or delivery of semiautomatic rifles. Lastly, Initiative Measure No. 940 which required law enforcement to receive violence de-escalation, mental-health, and first aid training.
The voter-approved State Initiatives and bills which Jay Inslee has signed in my opinion are ways which we strive for equity and justice in an unjust society. Your single vote can change whether a bill or candidate makes a difference in your city, state, or country. Use the privilege if you have it, and fight for those who are silenced and without a voice. If you remain silent with that privilege, you are only helping the oppressors.