In two short weeks, people across America will head to the polls to cast their ballots for the next generation of leadership. Here in Alabama, we have a US Senate seat and seven congressional seats on the ballot, plus our entire state legislature and all of our constitutional offices, like Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.
Yet, with the tremendous amount of power on the line--the sheer number of seats on the ballot--voter apathy is at an all time low. People just aren't paying attention this cycle, and it's time to start.
As an Alabamian, voting is an integral part of our history and heritage. In my own district of Selma, marchers faced State Troopers with billy clubs and police dogs as they marched for the right to vote. Just up the road in Shelby County, opponents of the same Voting Rights Act they fought for on the Edmund Pettus Bridge was challenged and went to the US Supreme Court, where its most crucial components were overturned.
Yes, Alabama brought you the Voting Rights Act, and Alabama killed the Voting Rights Act. No matter which side of the issue you're on, voting is part and parcel to our identity as Alabamians, yet only about 60 percent of Alabamians go to the polls.
And what do we have to show for it? We have a supermajority of Republican legislators who shut down debate every time a bill comes to the floor for discussion. In fact, they've shut down debate more times in the past four years than in all of Alabama history combined.
When they silence debate, they silence our ability as representatives to represent you, the people. They ram through bills without hearing how those bills will affect our communities, our friends, our neighbors.
The thing about voting is that it's the one right that protects all of our other rights. When we vote to stop the shenanigans, we vote to protect our access to affordable health care, quality schools and safe communities. When we don't vote, we leave those decisions about our lives up to someone else.
The Republicans know that what they're doing is wrong--and that's why they're doing everything they can to make it harder for everyday, working Alabamians to go to the polls to speak out against them.
They've shortened the length of time available to register to vote and they've passed a restrictive photo ID bill, which has been shown to disproportionately disenfranchise poor, elderly and minority voters.
If they win this November, they won't stop there. They've said they'll be "bolder" with the way they assault the Democratic process.
The only way to stop it is to stand up and vote against it. Your vote will make the difference--it will show the Republican supermajority that they can't win in a battle of will. We must refuse to let them steamroll over us and steal the state from the people.
We must get out to vote on November 4--and we must vote for the right to vote when we get there.