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Arab Americans: Don’t Wait to Vote!

posted on: Oct 26, 2016

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Photo: Courtesy of Arab American Institute (Twitter)

BY Zane Ziebell/Contributing Writer

The United States presidential election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 8th, 2016. This year’s election will be the 58th in U.S. history, and to some, the most important.

Arab Americans, and all Americans, don’t wait until November 8th to cast your vote, head to the polls now and vote early!

A strong democracy has a voting system that is free, fair, and accessible to all eligible citizens and voters. The United States is the owner of an election system that dates back well over a hundred years, with the original notion that votes should all be cast on a single day. As daily routines become busier and more complex, early voting, a rather new phenomenon, allows Arab Americans and all Americans the convenience and flexibility to vote among the demands of modern life.

Early voting is the process of casting your vote in this years presidential election before the national election day on November 8th. There are two methods to early voting; mail-in and in-person. Early mail-in voting is done by filling out a ballot and mailing it in to be counted in the election. Early in-person voting is done by going to your designated polling station during special days and times, before the Election Day.

The process of early voting has advantages to the Arab American voter. If you are new to the country, new to voting, or unfamiliar with the elections process, early voting gives you the chance to make sure your vote is counted. Early voting gives you the chance to make sure you have everything in order. Here are some things to think about:

• Registration – Are you registered to vote? Is your ID valid? If not, voting early gives you days, if not weeks, to make sure you fix your voting credentials to ensure that your vote is counted and your voice is heard. If you wait until the last minute and something is wrong with your ID card, your registration, or you simply forgot where your polling station is, then, you run the risk of not being able to vote, and ultimately, losing your chance to influence the presidential election.

• Location – Are you in the right place? Is this the proper district or precinct for you to be in to vote? If you vote early and you’re in the wrong place, you still have time to find the proper polling station to make sure you can vote. Don’t wait in line just to find out you showed up at the wrong place!

• Waiting – Why wait? When you vote early, you get to skip the hour long lines or avoid showing up at 6 am to skip the evening after work voting rush. Don’t stand in line on election day and vote early!

The current nominees, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, have taken bitter stances against one another that haven’t been seen in recent presidential races. But as the United States stands on the edge of this pivotal election, Arab Americans have a lot at stake. About 1% of the US population (4 million) are Arab Americans, winning the Arab American vote could prove to be the deciding factor in this highly anticipated election. As current rhetoric around the two political candidates heats up, Arab Americans can head to the polls early and cast their vote before November 8th.

Before losing to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was the candidate of choice for many Arab American voters. Sanders set himself apart to many voters for his neutral stance to Israel and Palestine as well as his comments regarding Israel’s ‘disproportionate’ actions against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in 2014. Bernie Sanders is Jewish but claimed not to support Israel over Palestine. This type of rhetoric gained him a large Arab American following.

As we move into a new environment of American politics, this election will leave a permanent mark on U.S. history. For young voters, this election will be the first time many Arab Americans can not only vote for the future president, but for the future of the country. For those who are on the fence about who to vote for, even a third party vote can have an impact. Even though the president is not elected by direct, majority votes, still participation by Arab Americans can be the difference between a state going blue or red in the Electoral College and influence the entire election.

Voting early shows your involvement in the political process and demonstrates that you have a voice and want to be heard. Casting your vote before the national Election Day may not affect the outcome of this years election, but an early vote is a step towards changing the country and the future of our political process. This election season offers more opportunities than ever for Arab Americans to cast a ballot before November 8th. Why wait? Go out and vote early and make your voice heard!