Voting is not just a civic duty; it’s a powerful means of expressing our voices and shaping the direction of our communities and nations. Each ballot cast represents more than just a preference or a choice of leadership; it’s a statement of our values and priorities. By participating in the electoral process, our community can contribute to the collective voice of the electorate, influencing decision-making and holding elected officials accountable for their actions.
With several US elected officials backing Israeli apartheid, when we exercise our right to vote, a clear message is sent that complicity or indifference in the face of human rights abuses will not be tolerated. Our voices matter, and through the democratic process, we can ensure that our leaders uphold the values of justice, equality, and human dignity.
Staying informed is crucial to making decisions at the ballot box. Just last week, the Muslim Civic Coalition, in collaboration with CIOGC and several other organizations, spearheaded the 2024 Candidate Forum, providing a platform for all presidential candidates to engage with the Muslim community in Chicago. Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Jill Stein joined the forum-two candidates who have vocalized their support for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Highlighting the call to action that these individuals made, while also educating the Chicago Muslim community on the different presidential candidates, is essential for ensuring each community member casts a vote that aligns best with their personal beliefs, values, and morals. While national elections often garner the most attention, local elections are equally important, and can influence decisions that directly impact your community.
“Voting for a federal position is like getting on a bus, while voting for a local election is like driving your own car,” said Nader Hamdan, an organizer of this recent forum. “When you get on a bus, they are going to take you close to your final destination, but once you get there you’re going to have to do some legwork and walk the rest of the way to your stop. Counter that with driving, you deliver yourself exactly where you want to be” Hamdan continued.
Voting can be mirrored that exact way. A candidate may not fit your every need in the federal elections, but you need someone who will take you as close to that as you can. However, if you vote locally, you’re given the opportunity to exercise more power andsway in where you want this person to go. That sway is exactly why we need to vote, and voting serves as the mechanism in which we can tell the community “This is what I’m thinking.”
Early voting has already begun in Cook and DuPage counties for the March 19th, 2024 election. Let’s seize this opportunity to use our voices and make a difference. Our votes matter, and together, we can create a brighter tomorrow for all.