We knew that based off of recent year’s civil rights and social justice needs, that 2020 was shaping up to be an especially heavy year for voter engagement… we never imagined the additional hurdles of a health pandemic coupled with a race-relations pandemic to complicate things. When The Exchange started making our transition to virtual land, we made a plan to focus on building and keeping our community together through this new space. We did so by acknowledging that we are all in the same storm, weathering it in unique boats. To that effect, I’d like to bring in some additional voices from our membership to convey the importance of voting this election cycle. Each were asked, “Why they’re voting and what’s their voting plan?”
Sibeko Jywanza –
“Voting is an important step within the process of how our democracy works. I think it is important for my choice to be known in who I want to represent my community. I plan to vote early. I usually go down to the City-County Building to cast my vote. I vote early to get my vote in as soon as possible and so I can help during Election Day. Plus when I vote early I experience fewer crowds which means less of a wait.”
“I believe it is my American responsibility and privilege to vote for each office individually and not to do a straight ballot, which honestly I think shouldn’t be an option. I educate myself on the issues and decide the best candidate. I plan to vote absentee.”
“I’m voting because it’s time for America to work better for the Black Community. Voting is one part of ensuring that happens, the other part is engaging locally to demand legislation that is inclusive. To cast my ballot, I’ll be voting in-person early the week of 10/6 at the Lawrence Township Community Center.”
There is an overwhelming number of reasons to vote. The top reason for me, a black, female, millennial, is because our country and our communities need new leaders. We need decision-makers to be people who represent our communities and reflect the next generation.
The call to vote is not new. We have been encouraged time after time to be engaged in community. John Lewis directed us to speak up, to do something and to get in the way. Maya Angelou challenged us to change the things we do not like. President Barack Obama encouraged us to be the change that we seek.
It’s way past time to adhere to these wise words. It’s time to step up and be intentional about using our voices! Voting is just one way to do so and to have a personal impact. My personal voting plan is to: 1) educate myself on the candidates (not just vote down-ballot) 2) encourage others to participate 3) vote early 4) volunteer at the polls. My voting plan, however, does not stop there. I will continue to be an advocate and hold those in office accountable by attending town halls and meetings with local officials, writing letters, and making calls to express my views and sharing my thoughts and experiences with others. I believe that we should not complain without the intent to cause change. And I believe that we should not vote without the intent to hold leaders accountable. Voting only happens on one day, however, advocacy should be ongoing. Your voting plan may not be as extensive as mine, but you should be strategic about how you will be heard.
And there you have it, we have a lot of work to do collectively. Won’t you join us in casting your ballot this election cycle? In Indy, we have just under a month to participate in this election, visit https://vote.indy.gov/ for more information and to make your voting plan.
Meet The Authors
Adrianne Slash is the President of the Exchange at the Indianapolis Urban League. Sibeko Jywanza is the current Programs Chair for the Exchange and a past Exchange Leadership Fellow. Grafton Balko is a member and past Exchange Leadership Fellow. Andre Franklin is a member and past Exchange Leadership Fellow. ZeNai Brooks is a member and past Exchange Leadership Fellow.9