Exercising rights is crucial amid pandemic


Mariama Jallow, Staff Columnist

No matter who you are, where you’re from, your race or class, some way or another your life has been affected by the government and local officials especially in the past couple of months. We vote for all of these officials, so if you or someone you know is unhappy with the way elected officials are running the country then go out and vote. 

According to Business Insider “138 million Americans voted in the 2016 presidential election; however, those 138 million Americans only make up 58.1% of our voting-eligible population (those American citizens over 18).” If you or anyone you know is eligible to vote, vote and be an informed voter. Know the people you are voting for, what they have done for our communities and what they plan on doing for us. Not just the presidential election though, because local elections are arguably even more important. In North Carolina, healthcare, criminal justice, climate change, education and civil rights are all issues on the ballot. That includes people such as police sheriffs, city council members, local judges, school board members, the commissioner of agriculture and more.  Although these issues are important, we cannot forget about voter suppression that is happening around the country. Through gerrymandering, redlining, employers not providing time off or extremely long lines at polling stations, voting has become a difficult task because there are citizens being targeted by unfair government policies.

In this election we need to think about hundreds of thousand absentee ballots being thrown out. According to the Charlotte Observer, absentee ballots in North Carolina from Black voters are three times more likely to be thrown out than absentee ballots from white voters. Early voting starts on Oct. 15 through Oct. 31 where same day registration and voting is possible. If you are unable to access an early voting poll station you can always track your absentee ballot to make sure that it has been accepted online. 

In North Carolina, healthcare, criminal justice, climate change, education and civil rights are all issues on the ballot.”

Vote like your life depends on it. The “greatest country in the world” has been hit hardest by a pandemic that our “leadership” wished away in January in fear of panicking and startling the American people. Imagine for a second how many American lives could have been saved. Imagine for a second the decline in quality of life that we all are experiencing as a result of the federal government’s inadequate health care policy. For the 215,000 lives lost, it was not just their lives taken away from them, but their respective families now have to bear the brunt of their fall. 

Now, think of the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs, filed for unemployment, no longer have education because of a lack of internet or laptop access. What about the single parents that do not have the funds for their children to be with a babysitter or nanny, but their parents have to still go to work? Research conducted by Diane Whittemore, a researcher at the Northwestern Policy Institute, indicates that food insecurity is currently at an all-time high because the data shows that, “more than one in ten Texans are turning to food banks and charity food programs to feed themselves.” More specifically the research proves that, “food insecurity is much higher for Black and Latino families. Thirty-five percent of Black families in Texas were food insecure at the end of July. For Latinos it was one in three, 12 percentage points higher than white families.” This portrays that COVID-19 is affecting everyone, but specifically underrepresented and disadvantaged groups. This is only one state in the country; there are 49 other states where people are living through food insecurity. 

Right now, Amy Coney Barrett is being confirmed as the newest addition to the Supreme Court of the United States. She is 48 years old and Supreme Court justices traditionally stay on the court for life. According to Stephen Miller of the Society for Human Resource Management, “On Nov. 10, the Supreme Court will rule on whether the Affordable Care Act is constitutional in whole or in part.” The Affordable Care Act expands healthcare coverage to 20 million people, but according to CNBC “President Trump will sign a series of executive orders aimed at protecting people with preexisting conditions.” If changes are made to the ACA that may not only jeopardize the 20 million people who have healthcare because of the ACA but the 7.85 million people who have had COVID-19, which will now be considered a pre-existing condition.