By  Penny Brown, Public Affairs Director

Although the general elections of 2016 are still many months away, it’s fair to say many folks are already battling “election fatigue.” There is unrelenting coverage of presidential candidates as primary season gets underway. We’re living in a country that seems to be as politically polarized as it’s ever been, and partisan bickering in Congress has ushered in an era where gridlock rules the day.

Amid all of this noise and empty promises, it’s easy to check out and think it’s pointless to get involved at all. Why take part in a process that will only bring about the same frustrating results? Once Election Day rolls around, it’s easy to go about your business and skip the whole thing.
I would like to encourage you instead to consider why every eligible citizen (most of you reading this!) must turn out at the polls. 

AMT is undertaking a get out the vote campaign this year called “Make the Vote.” We aren’t here to tell you how to cast your vote. We aren’t here to endorse or oppose any candidate. We are here to educate you and encourage you to show up at the polls, and to encourage your colleagues, family, friends and neighbors to do the same.

There are an estimated 12 million “manufacturing voters” in the United States – men and women who make things. If we all cast our votes, together we’d have a resonant voice! And it’s likely that there are more things that unite us than divide us. We want our companies to thrive. We want the United States to keep its place as a culture that encourages innovation and entrepreneurial thinking. We can be stronger together.

The first step is registering to vote. If you’d like to vote in your state’s primary, the registration deadline for that might be coming soon. And while we’ve still got plenty of time before this fall’s general election, why wait to register? You can find information about deadlines, polling locations and more through your state board of elections. A link for voter registration is available through AMT’s election center landing page, AMTonline.org/MakeTheVote.

The next step is educating yourself about the candidates and issues that will be on the ballot. Many resources exist, but my opinion is that the League of Women Voters is one of the best nonpartisan sources for information about candidates and the overall election process.

Finally, the last step is showing up. If you can’t physically come to the polls on Election Day, consider absentee voting or early voting, both of which are available in many states. This information is also available through AMT’s Make the Vote resources.

If your vote didn’t count, there wouldn’t be movements to restrict voter access to the polls (such as voter ID laws). Candidates and other groups wouldn’t spend millions of dollars trying to earn your vote (or at least keep it away from someone else). Whether you want to believe it or not, your vote matters! And even if your candidate doesn’t win, your vote is a reminder that you are among the constituency, and you also need representation. 

In the greatest democracy in the world, the power lies with the people. Make sure your voice gets heard. Register and vote.

Visit AMT’s election center at AMTonline.org/MakeTheVote. Why do you vote? Tell us on Twitter using the hashtag #MakeTheVote, and don’t forget to mention @ AMTonline!