Student asks: “Are you registered to vote?”

Hannah Pate, Staff Writer

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After months of registering voters outside of Walmart and other locations, I am exhausted. Not only physically, but mentally and spiritually.

My job with Montana Women Vote has not only inspired me to stay involved in politics but also made me incredibly angry. Time after time I asked “Would you like to register to vote?” only to be answered with “Nope. Hell no. No thanks.”

Not every person was negative and ignorant, don’t get me wrong — but the number of people who took their right to vote for granted was disturbing. I consider voting not only a right but a responsibility. It is a citizen’s responsibility to be not only educated on the issues, but use his or her  vote to determine the future of our country.

I get where some people are coming from when they say, “I’m not voting for any of them!” or “They both suck!” But the Presidential contest is only one small part of the overall election.The media makes it sound like it is the end of the world if your candidate doesn’t win, but the President only has a small amount of power in comparison to our local officials.

One group of people who especially understand this is new United States citizens. I went to a naturalization ceremony at the Federal Courthouse in early August, and it made the frustration of the summer completely worth it.

I not only watched these people become legal citizens of the United States, but I also got to register them to vote in their first presidential election. The emotions in the room were high as their names were called, and even higher as they got off the elevator to the first floor and I greeted them with a Montana voter registration card.

These people were so excited to register, full of pride and honor for the democratic process and their newfound citizenship. Some of them even started crying. Luckily, I held my sobbing in until I got into my car afterward.

My supervisor Jules approached my car concerned, and I rolled down the window. “Are you OK?” she asked.

What she didn’t initially know is that I was more than OK. I was determined, pissed off, and overjoyed all at the same time.

These citizens were so unlike the others; they were grateful instead of entitled and considered voting a gift instead of a burden.

This election season, please remember these citizens. So what if you don’t like the presidential candidates! Vote locally. Vote on candidates, on constitutional initiatives, on ballot issues. JUST GET OUT AND VOTE.

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