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Patrick Hampton / Oct. 31, 2020

The 2020 Voter Guide for Black Americans

Five things to keep in mind when filling out your ballot for this election.

If you are reading this and haven’t cast your vote yet or haven’t decided on your candidate, it’s time to talk.

If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, you’re probably looking around at your neighborhood and wondering why nothing has changed. Or perhaps you’re concerned about race relations and how they seem worse than they’ve ever been. If you plan to vote in this election and have these concerns, then I leave you with these critical things to consider before you approach the ballot on November 3.

  1. Vote with faith, not fear. Too many people are voting for a presidential candidate based on what the media says about the opposing candidate. Unfortunately, this is a lazy way to approach voting. Voting for one person because you don’t like the other puts voters at risk for policies they didn’t ask for — some of which could do harm to their communities. Do vote, but only because you believe in what your candidate can do. Besides, the “lesser of the two evils” argument is flawed if you don’t know the evils on both sides of the ticket.
  2. Local votes matter. Your news feed is likely flooded with national politics, but don’t ignore your local politicians who will likely have the greatest impact on the state of your own community. And instead of letting the television tell you who is best, actually do a Google search for your local county commissioner, state senators, and other elected officials. Every candidate has a website featuring his or her platform. Go and read it. Remember: Voting is just like making a major purchase on a home or car — you want to read the fine print before you sign the dotted line.
  3. Ask if you truly believe in a candidate. Here’s an exercise: Sit down with your family and write down the names of the candidates you plan to vote for. Beside each candidate’s name, jot down a list of reasons why you plan to vote for this individual. Include what you like about the candidate, including values and policies that matter to you. If you’re drawing a blank, you need to do more research. Your vote is too valuable to throw away.
  4. Know what you want. Is it a safer neighborhood for your children? Is it school choice? Or maybe it’s a better relationship with local police. A solid vote starts with knowing what it is you value. This is the critical thinking that will change your community for the better. Don’t go to the polls without it.
  5. Leave skin color out of it. Because who’s to say if a black candidate has your best interests at heart? For this to even be true, it would mean that every black person lived the same experience. This isn’t true. Avoid voting with your skin and vote with objectivity instead.

I write this column because the black community has been taken advantage of for far too long. And while I could have taken this opportunity to wax poetic about the candidate that I choose to vote for, I’d rather inform readers of the grave risk in voting blindly. This voting pattern has left black Americans without any discernible change for the better. But your vote on November 3 could be the change you’re looking for.

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