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Events at Morven Park

Importance of Voices in the Election Process

Image shows voting buttons that read "Your vote matters"

A few months ago, the Morven Park Center for Civic Impact (MPCCI) hosted the “Sneaky Civics” webinar, during which the team provided examples of how civics sneaks into our everyday lives. The examples included people using their voices to share ideas in the workplace, researching questionable information, taking responsibility at home by asking for help with chores, and making an impact by helping family members solve problems.

The Four Core Civics Principles

Political and civic life in the United States rests on a set of fundamental principles and values including equality, rule of law, limited government, and representative government. Interestingly, voting is a civic responsibility that incorporates all four of these core civics principles: Voice, Research, Responsibility, and Impact. In short:

1) Voice: Voting is a way for people to express their voice and have a say in the political process.

2) Research: Voters should do their homework by researching the candidates and issues on the ballot.

3) Responsibility: Voters are responsible for electing officials who will best represent them and their interests.

4) Impact: Each citizen has the power to impact their community both locally and nationally with every voice using his or her vote.

Voice: Speak Up In Your Community

By taking the time to vote, you express what you want your local community, state, and country to look like, either by continuing current trends and policies or changing them. Voting is one way to speak up, voice your opinion and have a say in the political process.

When you go to vote, be sure to bring your opinions, thoughts, and ideas about your local community with you. As citizens, we are all responsible for shaping our communities and country. Use your voice at the ballot box to make your voice heard!

Research: Learn More Before Casting Your Ballot

Before casting your ballot, make sure you know about the individuals and issues being presented on the ballot. Your voice and research can help you make a more informed decision. Voting is not only a right but also a responsibility. It’s also a cornerstone of civic engagement. Make sure you are knowledgeable about the candidates and issues before heading to the polls through researching your options. Our future is inextricably linked to our votes and performing your homework on the candidates before you, while making sound judgments for the future is part of your civic duty.

Responsibility: Casting Your Ballot, Take the Time

As citizens eligible to vote, it is important to take the time—either through early voting, absentee ballot, or in-person on election day—to cast your ballot. Voting is a responsibility of citizenship. Make sure on election day you take the time needed to make an informed decision about the issues that matter to you and who should serve as your voice in leadership positions at all levels of government, not just your local community.

After we cast our ballot, we are responsible for holding elected officials accountable for their actions by continuing to voice our opinions about what matters most to us. We have a responsibility toward future generations to make sound judgements about our laws, leaders, [1] and social issues facing our generation. 

Impact: Every Vote Counts

While many people say, “My one vote does not matter,” elections can be decided by thin margins, particularly the local contests and minor issues on the ballot. Voting is a combination of voice, research, responsibility, and action. Each citizen has the power to impact their community both locally and nationally with every voice using his or her vote. As citizens of these United States, it is our civic duty to participate in civic engagement by voicing our opinions about what matters most to us and by casting an informed ballot.

Local Elections: The Foundation of Democracy

The year after a presidential election is an “off” year in which only two states—Virginia and New Jersey—elect new state representation, but several communities hold smaller localized elections. While national elections receive greater attention, local elections often have a greater impact on daily life. The winners of mayoral, town/city council, and county official races will enforce the decisions made by citizens voting on matters such as taxes, school construction, and infrastructure improvements.

This is why it is important to know not just the candidates, but also any other questions on the ballot. 

Voter Accessibility Issues Face Northern Virginia

Even in a year without a pandemic, voting can be difficult for some individuals because of work schedules, unreliable transportation, long wait times, or complicated Voter ID laws. While Virginia Governor Ralph Northam made Election Day a state holiday in 2020, the resultant greater accessibility is not available to all citizens.

If you know someone who faces voter accessibility problems, reach out and see if there is a way to help or contact your local Registrar’s Office for assistance. Election season is a time when our voices can be heard the loudest. It's important that everyone participates and shows how we can make an impact through voting!

2021 Virginia Election Resource Recommendations

To help prepare for Election Day on November 2, 2021, MPCCI is pleased to provide the following websites to help regional voters prepare for their state and local elections. If you have additional questions, we recommend that you contact your local Registrar’s Office for the most up-to-date and accurate details about your voting location, registration status, and more.

Local elections: