Opinion: Here’s why I’m voting. And why you should too

Some of our community contributors share their reasons for going to vote this year

Every election, we head to our local voting precincts to take part in a sacred right.

We choose our local, state and national leaders. We weigh questions that decide how our tax dollars are spent. We ensure that our voices are heard. This year, Georgians are turning out in record numbers, voting early or casting absentee ballots.

If you haven’t already voted, polls in Georgia open Tuesday morning at 7.

Still on the fence about casting your ballot?

Today, we’re providing some inspiration from our network of community contributors. They’ll remind you of your civic responsibility.

And as you’ll see, yes, your vote really does count.

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Lezly Tyler

Credit: contributed

Lezly Tyler
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Lezly Tyler

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“I believe that voting is so important because of our children. We all have a responsibility to shape a country that is empowering, inspiring and supportive. As a Black woman, voting is also important because people gave their lives to allow us the privilege to do so. Voting is the most important way to participate in one of the most powerful democracies in the world – and everyone should exercise this right with conviction, purpose and intention.”

Lezly Tyler

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Community contributor Greg Loughlin. Photo contributed.

Credit: contributed

Community contributor Greg Loughlin. Photo contributed.
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Community contributor Greg Loughlin. Photo contributed.

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“I vote because I have hope. Some days are better than others, but I have hope that positive change is coming. I want to do my part. Please do your part, too.”

Greg Loughlin

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Dr. Behnoosh Momin, of Dunwoody, is an AJC community contributor. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: contributed

Dr. Behnoosh Momin, of Dunwoody, is an AJC community contributor. CONTRIBUTED
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Dr. Behnoosh Momin, of Dunwoody, is an AJC community contributor. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“The ethics of Islam bridge faith and society. As Muslims, our faith encourages us to be fully engaged in both the spiritual and worldly matters. Islam demands an elimination of inequities in society, and, therefore, one has to be educated to determine the nature of leadership that would seek to accomplish this. Merit and competence are recognized as essential criteria for leadership. Hence, the ability to exercise my right to vote is a sacred one – one that gives me the ability to strengthen our democracy.”

Behnoosh Momin

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Mary Rittle lives in Johns Creek and recently retired from a career in marketing and public relations. She has three grown sons and keeps busy with her three grandchildren, pickleball, swimming, a community garden, singing in a choir and volunteering. In 2019, she published a children's book, "Sparkler the 10th Reindeer."

Credit: contributed

Mary Rittle lives in Johns Creek and recently retired from a career in marketing and public relations. She has three grown sons and keeps busy with her three grandchildren, pickleball, swimming, a community garden, singing in a choir and volunteering.  In 2019, she published a children's book, "Sparkler the 10th Reindeer."
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Mary Rittle lives in Johns Creek and recently retired from a career in marketing and public relations. She has three grown sons and keeps busy with her three grandchildren, pickleball, swimming, a community garden, singing in a choir and volunteering. In 2019, she published a children's book, "Sparkler the 10th Reindeer."

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“Gloria Steinem recently said the voting booth is the only place we are all equal. That is a powerful statement. My vote has great value – as does yours. Women and minorities have had to fight for the right to vote. Why would we not treasure that? It doesn’t make sense to discard something of great value. It makes more sense to hold it in esteem and use it for its intended purpose. Voting increases your ownership in our society.”

Mary Rittle

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Schuyler Harding

Credit: contributed

Schuyler Harding
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Schuyler Harding

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“I vote because every election cycle – whether on the local or state level, or to elect our next president – is important. Voting is personal for me. As a Black woman, I take pride in heading to the polls during every election, as I’m aware of the sacrifices those before me made so that I can exercise my right. My vote is my voice, and so is yours. It’s what I consider one of the many tenets of being an informed and engaged member of my community – one who has the opportunity to choose their leader. Simply put, I vote because it’s my right to exercise my voice and my choice. That’s why I’m voting – and why you should, too.”

Schuyler Harding

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Max Lehmann, Dunwoody resident

Credit: contributed

Max Lehmann, Dunwoody resident
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Max Lehmann, Dunwoody resident

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“In 2016, my Lyft driver told me she wasn’t going to vote because her vote doesn’t count. She went on to say, ‘Why bother to vote when the electoral college cancels my choice anyway?’ In fact, your vote does matter. To think your vote is unimportant literally means you have given up on the great American experiment. By the way, the electoral college protects the vote of millions of rural citizens whose voices wouldn’t be heard if it were eliminated. It saddens me to hear how many people are devoid of hope. To me, it is unthinkable that our system is so broken that our vote is meaningless.”

Max Lehmann

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Maria Balais, a community contributor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Contributed by Maria Balais

Credit: contributed

Maria Balais, a community contributor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Contributed by Maria Balais
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Maria Balais, a community contributor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Contributed by Maria Balais

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“I grew up in Manila, Philippines in the 1970s, and the country was ruled by a dictator named Ferdinand Marcos. There was no democracy in Manila at the time. We immigrated to the United States in 1979, and my family spent 11 years to become American citizens. Because we did not come from a country with a democratic government, my family and I do not take our voting rights for granted. We believe it is one of the most important duties of being a good citizen, along with being kind and compassionate to others. On October 12, I stood in line for almost four hours to vote at The High Museum of Art and The Woodruff Arts Center, wearing a Kermit the Frog t-shirt. There was a Black man directly behind me and an hour and a half into it, he started to lose steam. He said, ‘This is going to take my entire day.’ I then explained to him how I didn’t always have the right to vote, and as a Black man, neither did he. I told him I would keep him company until we reached the end. He was wearing a mask and sunglasses, and I could not see his smile, but I felt it. When we finally reached the front of the line, he said to me, ‘Thank you, for talking to me. You gave me the strength to stand in this line.’ I feel we should all have the strength and optimism for our freedom to vote.”

Maria Balais

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Perry Rettig, AJC community contributor

Credit: contributed

Perry Rettig, AJC community contributor
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Perry Rettig, AJC community contributor

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“'We have rights, you know!' Indeed. You know, we have responsibilities, too. Our rights are one half of the civic coin. The other side is our corresponding responsibilities as citizens. Our forebears struggled and even fought for these rights and responsibilities. This right has been earned and must be kept. I have never neglected this civic duty, and I vote with immense pride.”

Perry Rettig

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Toyasha Vaughn

Credit: contributed

Toyasha Vaughn
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Toyasha Vaughn

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“I vote because we are at a critical time in the history of the United States of America. I recognize service to others as vital in order to support the American culture of citizenship. I also vote because through service to others, we have the opportunity to facilitate a policymaking process that makes life worth living – for all.”

Toyasha Vaughn

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Linden Longino

Credit: contributed

Linden Longino
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Linden Longino

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“I am in my 85th year. My generation has done a lousy job of creating and maintaining peace in America and in the world. Some good efforts have been made, but the record shows they were not enough. I have already voted in this election, but not for myself. I voted for the futures of my little grandsons, ages 5 and 6. I will talk to them about many things as they grow older, and I will try to help them understand their rights and responsibilities in their world. I will try to help them learn what is right and what is wrong in life and what they can do about it. That’s why I voted.”

Linden Longino

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AJC Community Contributor Shara Horne

Credit: contributed

AJC Community Contributor Shara Horne
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AJC Community Contributor Shara Horne

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“I’m voting because I am my children’s voice. I vote for our military men and women who deserve the very best commander in chief. I vote for our teachers who deserve the very best department of education. I vote for our children who deserve to have a clean and safe country to grow up in. I vote for people of color who deserve protection and equality on every level. I vote for myself so that someday, when my children ask me if I voted in 2020, I can look them in the eyes and truthfully say ‘yes.’ My son will learn the name of our president in preschool soon and I have a chance to choose whose name he will learn. My daughter, who is far too aware of the importance of voting, is counting on me to do my part. And finally, I vote because I like getting the little sticker. It might even end up being my favorite memento from 2020. Also, I’ve lived through too many seasons of American Idol to pretend that voting doesn’t matter.”

Shara Horne

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Alaya Horne, 8, of Johns Creek. Contributed by Shara Horne

Credit: contributed

Alaya Horne, 8, of Johns Creek. Contributed by Shara Horne
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Alaya Horne, 8, of Johns Creek. Contributed by Shara Horne

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“I’m not old enough to vote yet, but when I am, I’m going to vote because it’s important. If nobody votes, then the people don’t get what they want. And when they don’t get what they want, they will complain about it. Probably A LOT. For example, if my teacher, Mrs. McCullars, let us vote on whether we should have chocolate cake or apple pie, and only four people voted, whoever didn’t vote shouldn’t be allowed to complain. If they wanted a certain option, they should have voted. It would make me sad if we only had apple pie.”

Alaya Horne (Shara Horne’s 9-year-old daughter)

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Danny Umali, Community Contributor

Credit: contributed

Danny Umali, Community Contributor
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Danny Umali, Community Contributor

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“Eric Hoffer, an American philosopher, once said, ‘The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.’ The ‘arithmetic’ of 2020 did not add up for a lot of us. 2020 knocked us down. Some of us have managed to pick ourselves back up and some of us have not. Today, I count my blessings as someone who has managed to get back up. I continue to look at the world from a half-glass-full point of view. I cast my vote this year in that same spirit of optimism and with hope that the world will get better. I vote from my heart. I vote my conscience. I vote knowing that I can make a difference. As we all struggle to piece together what we have left of 2020, let’s exercise our right to vote so we can move forward to a better place and leave 2020 in the rear view.”

Danny Umali

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Dana Rice

Credit: contributed

Dana Rice
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Dana Rice

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

"Let’s be real. There’s a lot of noise out there and it can be hard to get a word in edgewise. Unless you’re a big shot or an ‘influencer,’ chances are that nobody is asking for your opinion on anything big. It’s easy to think that your voice doesn’t matter. But there is one thing that changes everything – voting. Voting is an opportunity to step up to the mic and say what’s important to you. I vote because of the feeling I get when I choose a candidate on the ballot. Whether my candidate of choice wins or loses, I still get that amazing feeling of what it means to be heard, to have a choice, to have my opinion recorded in history. It’s a moment of clarity of what my life will look like moving forward – not based on the outcome of an election, but based on the values I just voted for and how I will live out and fight for those values after leaving the voting booth. So, get up and vote. Vote for the feeling.

Dana Rice

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Yusra Khan, Alpharetta resident

Credit: contributed

Yusra Khan, Alpharetta resident
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Yusra Khan, Alpharetta resident

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

"As an 18-year-old who’s never before been able to cast a vote but has had the privilege to share her voice through things like journalism, I’m very aware of the positive change young people can enact. I’m voting because I believe it’s our responsibility to take every opportunity to shape the world we wish to live in. "

Yusra Khan

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John Ray, of Alpharetta, is an AJC community contributor. Contributed by Kyle Valencia

Credit: contributed

John Ray, of Alpharetta, is an AJC community contributor. Contributed by Kyle Valencia
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John Ray, of Alpharetta, is an AJC community contributor. Contributed by Kyle Valencia

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“Left to their own devices, humans can misuse political power to seek their own good versus the good of all. While there are checks and balances in our government structures, over the course of history, we have witnessed their imperfections. It’s our civic duty, not just to ourselves but to each other, to exercise the ultimate check we possess – voting.”

John Ray

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Cathy Lussiana, AJC community contributor. Contributed photo

Credit: contributed

Cathy Lussiana, AJC community contributor. Contributed photo
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Cathy Lussiana, AJC community contributor. Contributed photo

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

“I vote because I can. Voting in our great country is both a privilege and a responsibility – a responsibility to take the time to understand, learn and think through our vote. Voting ensures that each voice is heard. Ignoring this privilege and responsibility means you’ve lost your right to complain. Voting, by all of us, as Americans, results in decisions that each of us should then support.”

Cathy Lussiana

ExploreAJC Voter Guide for the Georgia Election