The Right to Vote and What it Means to Me

February 27, 2023
Ballot box outside of campus

Ballot box outside of campus

Natalia Farias Maldonado has long dark colored hair and is smiling at the camera
Natalia Farias Maldonado

As a woman of color, voting isn't a choice for me; it's crucial. Time and time again, my rights as a human are up for grabs. Not caring about voting is a privilege afforded to people whose rights aren't continually debated. One of the most recent examples is the overturning of Roe v Wade. 

As of June 2022, Roe v. Wade was overturned in an effort to take away the right to reproductive autonomy. Even in California, one of the most liberal states, the right to reproductive freedom was a measure on the 2022 midterm ballot, leaving it up to California residents whether or not I and millions of others have the right to choose what to do with our bodies and lives. Let that sink in. People who will never be affected by the health risks of unplanned or ectopic pregnancies have the power to dictate the course of my life. I am privileged enough to have the right to vote, and it's not something I take for granted. I vote for myself, for my grandmother, for my sisters, for the people who can't, and for future generations. I cast my ballot with hope in my heart and fire in my stomach, knowing I have the power to enact the change I hope to see in this world. 

Girls Just Wanna Have Fundamental Human Rights on a blue background with three multi-colored fists
Girls Just Wanna Have
Fundamental Human Rights

It's necessary for me to assert my power and make my voice heard because there will always be people who try to deny me that power. Historically, there have been efforts to quiet the voices of marginalized communities, such as people of color, disabled people, and women. As recently as the last presidential election, legislators in Georgia made it illegal to hand out food or water to citizens waiting in line to vote. This law disproportionately affected areas with high proportions of people of color.1 Alongside their strict legislation, Georgia gained national attention for their notoriously long ballot box lines. This was deliberately enacted to stop people from voting. The people trying to silence us realize how much power we have if we band together and make our voices heard. And heard our voices were, despite all of the pushback, residents in California, Michigan, and Vermont teamed together to protect and uphold the right to reproductive autonomy.2