Young United Methodists call voting an act of faith
During National Voter Education Week, young United Methodists reflect on why it's important to vote--and how.
We are in an election year where our ability to vote feels more important than ever. At the same time, pandemic worries have us more stressed about the process of voting than we ever have been before.
I have voted absentee several times as a student living away from home, but this year, I wanted to make doubly sure I could vote safely, and my vote would be counted. I looked up my voter registration online and was able to update my registration address and double-check my mailing address. I received a new voter registration card in less than a week. Then, I put in a request for an absentee ballot by filling out a form online and emailing it to the absentee ballot office in my county, and then received my ballot this week.
I found this process to be easier than expected, and I also appreciate the way the absentee ballot allows me to spend some time looking over the ballot and researching candidates who are less familiar to me. I plan to go over my ballot and all the instructions in detail to make sure that I complete everything correctly, and I will mail my ballot by placing it directly in the USPS mailbox near my home.
The Book of Resolutions affirms our civic responsibility: “While declaring our ultimate allegiance is to God, Scripture recognizes that faithfulness to God requires political engagement by the people of God.” (#5012)
As a United Methodist, I believe voting is an important way we raise our voices not only for our individual interests but also to uphold the rights and sacred worth of all our neighbors. Our United Methodist Social Creed states, “We commit ourselves to the rights of men, women, children, youth, young adults, the aging, and people with disability; to improvement of the quality of life; and to the rights and dignity of all persons.”
We can enact this commitment by educating ourselves about candidates and policies, then voting out of this knowledge with the quality of life of all our neighbors in mind. Voting is also a part of caring for God’s creation entrusted to our stewardship. As the Social Principles state, “All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings.”- ¶160 I plan to vote keeping this care for God’s creation in mind.
Young people have an incredibly important voice in this election. As a former youth minister, I know many United Methodist students voting for the first or second time in this election, and I got the chance to talk with a few young women about why and how they plan to vote.
Olivia Skaggs, first year student at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC, is voting for the first time this year, and plans to vote in person.
Olivia’s faith as a United Methodist shapes the values that inform her vote. She will vote in ways she believes will uphold “equal rights for every single human being… I’m voting because absolutely NOTHING makes one person better than another.”
Erin McIntyre, sophomore at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, will be voting for the first time as well, through an absentee ballot.
She believes voting is our duty as citizens, saying, “Not everyone has the opportunity to be a part of making decisions for their country, so we need to take advantage of our privilege.” Erin grew up in the church as well, and she’s not sure either presidential candidate’s policies fully conform to the values of the United Methodist Church. “However,” she says, “I believe that Christianity is meant to be about love.” Erin plans to vote in ways that she feels are “in line with showing love and compassion to other people.”
Grace Fine, also an Appalachian State sophomore, is planning to vote absentee due to safety concerns around COVID-19.
Voting is important to Grace because “Voting lets the people have a voice in who they wish to serve them.” She is voting based on her United Methodist upbringing and values, which means, “I want everyone to be included in all aspects of life, no matter the color of their skin, religious background, sexual orientation… My hope for this election is that it will bring everyone together.”
Along with Olivia, Erin, and Grace, I see my vote as an act of faith, and as a way of enacting hope and love for my community and my country.