This blog post was sponsored by The Bridge, RV’s BIPOC Employee Resource Group (ERG), and contributed by ERG member Danielle Manyika.
Voter education has been a key pillar of RV’s D&I learning journey, and we’re proud of how vocal our U.S. employees have been on advocating for voter turnout. With Election Day only hours away, we wanted to learn more about why RVers are voting this year, and what their democratic rights mean to them – so we asked! Here’s what they had to say.
Is there anything unique about your state’s voting norms?
Sara Emerson (South Carolina): South Carolina is a fairly restrictive state with limited mail in voting and photo ID requirements in order to vote. This year they’ve made some concessions (allowing in person early voting and allowing early voting for all residents), but still require witness signatures on absentee ballots and have very limited in person voting locations.
Mackenzie Caporale (Washington): Vote-by-mail began in Washington in 2005. All voters are mailed their ballots a few weeks before November 3rd and have the option to mail it back or drop it in a ballot box.
Natalie Brown (Georgia): There seem to be a lot more polling stations open for early voting this year.
Tell us about your voting experience.
Mackenzie Caporale (Washington): This is my third time voting in a general election for president, but my first time in Washington. Honestly, this is the most informed/prepared I have ever felt. Along with your ballot, Washington also sent a book that has each candidate’s information/goals/etc. Along with that, there were explanations and arguments on each amendment that voters could vote on. Because of this, as well as being able to fill my ballot out at home, I was able to take my time and sit down with my husband to go through each amendment or position one-by-one. In the past, I’ve known a few names of politicians I wanted to vote for (presidents, senators, etc.), but I didn’t pay much attention to anything else, especially because it felt like I needed to get in and out of the voting location quickly as others needed to vote.
Sara Emerson (South Carolina): I have voted in every election since I turned 18, but this is my first time voting early by absentee ballot.
Lena Nelson (North Carolina): This year was my first time voting in NC by mail. When I first moved to NC for school, I voted in all the elections in my home state by mail. I also grew up with a lot of kids whose parents were in the military so the concept itself of voting by mail was never foreign. What made this year unique is that I realized I have taken the privilege of voting for granted. I have never had to experience, or question, the legitimacy of a mail-in ballot, or wonder if my vote truly counted. I have voted in almost every election since age 18, not just because it was my “civic duty,” but because it was easy. I think now, more than ever, we not only need to acknowledge our privilege, but also use it to protect others and their rights to use their voices and vote.
Natalie Brown (Georgia): This year will be quite different with the reality that many people across the country will be voting via mail. I’ve heard several stories – both good and bad – regarding this reality. I had a friend who received his ballot with pages missing and wasn’t able to exercise his full right to vote because of that. It’s made me hesitant about voting by mail.
What does voting mean to you?
Kendra Smith (California): Women couldn’t even vote in the US until 100 years ago. Black men couldn’t vote either, and when they first received the right, it didn’t count as a full vote. Many people in the US are still disenfranchised today. And this same struggle has happened and is happening in countries all over the world. It’s hard to ignore these aspects of our history and our present, as well as the global reality around people’s right to elect who governs them. So I recognize voting as a right that has been precarious and could still be one day. By exercising my choice, I have some measure of control over that never happening.
Brittany Dunlap (North Carolina): Voting as a black female means a lot. My two identities are the two groups that were oppressed the most in regards to voting. Being able to vote and have my voice heard is something that is so important to me, and is not something I take lightly. There were so many others before me that could only dream of voting, so I do it for them, myself and my community.
Who taught you or inspires your voting outlook and why?
Lena Nelson (North Carolina): My parents and my love of history. My mother has instilled that so many have fought for my right to vote and it would be a disservice to their memory to not exercise that right.
Sara Emerson (South Carolina): I honestly don’t know where I got my passion for voting. My mother taught me to be a strong, independent woman, but has never voted in an election. Neither of my brothers are particularly interested in political involvement. I can’t point to one specific person who has driven me to be a passionate voter, but I am incredibly motivated to do whatever I can to push progress and elect representatives who will drive policy that aligns with my beliefs.
Natalie Brown (Georgia): My outlook on voting is constantly evolving and I’ve been most inspired by what’s happening in the present moment. I’ve voted several times before, but as I continue to mature into adulthood and learn more about political roles and power, I am a lot more observant and aware of the realities happening across the nation and what greatly affects them. It’s all usually somehow tied back to local and national government when we look to the root. If that knowledge alone doesn’t inspire us to vote, I’d question how awake and alert we are.
Mackenzie Carporale (Washington): As I teen I was only told, “I’m voting for whoever your grandfather says.” Thankfully that’s not how things are done now, but I didn’t understand the true importance of voting until I got to college. Joining my sorority taught me the importance of my vote on a smaller scale and how to speak up even when it may be against the popular opinion. I was surrounded by a group that focused on the importance of diversity, inclusion and women’s empowerment. It’s a big reason why I try to continuously speak up and vote.
Brittany Dunlap (North Carolina): My grandmother was a huge advocate for voting. She made sure we were at the polls for every election, and not just presidential. It was very clear to me – even at a young age, before I could even vote – that my ancestors before me were not awarded the same privilege, and that I needed to make sure I honored them and went out to vote. She was an avid poll worker and loved being able to help others exercise their rights. Her dedication is something that I aspire to have and to share with others.
Kendra Smith (California): Funnily enough, my parents taking me with them to vote probably had some influence, though we don’t share political views in the slightest. But I was always interested in governance and elections, and participated in student government and the school newspaper. I was even the elections commissioner in high school and was selected to go to Girls’ State, a camp that teaches kids about government. I don’t enjoy the conflict of politics, but I do believe that free and fair elections and a free press are the makings of democracy based on those experiences growing up.
RV wants YOU to do your civic duty! Learn more about the impact of your vote here.