Our Next March: To the Polls

Our Next March: To the Polls


Tuesday is an important day for our democracy.

It’s the spring primary.

If you didn’t know that, you’re not alone. In 2013, Dane County reported a turnout of 10.5 percent of registered voters in the Spring Primary Election. In 2014, it was 7.7 percent. In 2015 it was 13 percent and last year it rose to 21 percent.

Even that higher percentage translated to 72,966 people turning out to the Spring Primary Election in 2016.

Now let’s look at the Women’s March in Madison last month. Reports said that between 75,000 and 100,000 turned up. On a cold day in January. On a Saturday. A commitment of two or three hours. And you had to find parking or take the bus or carpool with friends. Bring some snacks, grab some cash for some food. Maybe find some childcare. And get creative with signs and hats and some knitting of sweaters.

Not nearly as convenient as voting, yet more people marched around this time last month than voted around this time last year.

Voting will still require some re-arranging of your time, of your day, of work life, home life and love life, maybe. It will require something of you – but not as much as that commitment most people took that Saturday. You don’t need to bring a clever sign. You don’t have to bring money for food. You don’t even need to bring a pencil or paper. Just bring a valid voter ID. You can even register at the polls if you need to. Just show up.

Yes, you should be prepared. Do take the time to find out who is on the ballot. (Spoiler: State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Madison School Board seats 6 and 7, several other local school boards and local governments. If you’re concerned about Betsy DeVos running the federal Department of Education, you better turn out for these local school races!) Find out where exactly to vote. Go to the League of Women Voters of Dane County website to read candidate answers. Look, I even linked the page for you, click it: https://www.lwvdanecounty.org/candidates-answers-spring-primary-2017

Despite the cold, despite the loss of a Saturday in January, some of us showed up to march, some of us stayed back to support, and some of us were with you in spirit. Either way, there was a sense of community, of commitment to what the next few days, months and even years were going to be. There was a promise made that day – we’d promise to show up for each other, for our kids, for ourselves. And we need to show up even for this spring primary because  it matters.  Now, more than ever, it all matters.

Let’s keep that promise on Tuesday, shall we?

Voting is not the sexiest form of protest, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Yes, there will be fewer selfies on that day. Fewer speeches and soap boxes. You can wear your hats, your shirts, you can sing your song of protest and even take your kids to show them what it is to participate on another level, on a different day. Show them that participation in our democracy isn’t just about the days when everyone is watching or even marching, but on the days when we walk into a small booth, with no one but ourselves, and fill in this and that and push our ballot through the machine that thanks you for voting and get a sticker.

And wear your “I Voted” sticker. Or give it to your kids. Or take a selfie with your sticker and post it on social media just like you did with your “Nasty Woman” sign or whatever. Include what number you were at the polling location. Maybe smile. Or don’t.

Just show up and vote on Tuesday.

Written by Stephanie Diaz de Leon

Stephanie Diaz de Leon

Stephanie Diaz de Leon is a music and culture contributor to Madison365.