I was unsure what to expect applying to be in Wake the Vote yet something told me to apply. Something told me it would be an amazing experience I couldn’t and wouldn’t let escape from my grips. I know of course after all the amazing trips and dialogs I was right (plus we aren’t even half way over!!!) but this North Carolina trip was a little different for me. As a Winston-Salem resident who was assigned to actually work at my old High school to help people vote it felt just both nostalgic as well as honorable. Not only did I get to leave the usual wake bubble but I got to give back to my community that raised me. I got to make sure my people didn’t get their rights stripped away from them like so many have in North Carolina (and other states) because of the new voting restrictions.
Before Wake the Vote I knew voting was an issue in America now and obviously in the past. In the aspect that many corrupt and despicable individuals throughout the United States history have disenfranchised and will continue to disenfranchise peoples to make sure only the people they want to vote actually get to get their right to vote. As Americans it seems like we want to act like we run the best country in the world yet it wasn’t until the 20th all peoples could vote (but since then there have still be a ton of obstructions). Our history is full of acts of pure horror and if you read about voting rights struggles it is full of acts that are so despicable because this so called right to vote only exists if you are a rich white male in the past and now if we continue to allow laws like the new voting restrictions in North Carolina only lower middle class and up individuals will be able to put their say in politics.
We learned (I saw we as in a whole of Wake the Vote) so much from “Give us the Ballot” and one of the biggest things I learned was that politics is dirty and this America some Americans love to boast about doesn’t exist. When we have politicians who gerrymander the heck out of their states, write laws that make it so you need an ID to vote but also close down a majority of the DMV’s, basically institute a poll tax, scare people from the polls, etc; it’s obviously seen from just the voting struggle that this amazing America doesn’t exist. Many conservatives and I say this from my knowledge from Give us the Ballot don’t want democrats to win any form of power in government. They are angry that Obama won twice, and they don’t care that the people voted in a majority for him because they don’t care about equality or the American values for those that don’t support them. They will cheat and lie and redraw districts, they will try their hardest to make it so hard to vote that people just don’t vote, they will make people lose hope in politics and give up. How is that American or ethical?
As a North Carolina resident reading Give us the Ballot was hard because I saw in my home state how the hardest voting restriction laws were put in place. My state was the leader in taking away people’s right to vote and right to put their say in our so called democracy. That’s why I was excited and proud to be working to fight these news laws at the polls and make sure people voted. As well as I loved seeing the community around my school and getting to talk to the voters and the poll workers. It was so happy that our district had very little problems (none during Zach and my shift) and that unlike many districts ours had many properly trained workers. When people try to claim that these new laws are fine I am shocked because they come from such a privileged standpoint or are so ill-informed and it doesn’t just shock me but it hurts me that so many peoples are getting fooled and even more so that so many people (over 200,000 in North Carolina) will get disenfranchised from voting. I mean heck our program is about voting, the program is called, “Wake the VOTE” and how could we wake the vote if people can’t vote?
-David Ajamy II