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Sophia Bush Op-Ed on 2018 Midterm Elections

We Owe It to the Women Who Fought For Our Right to Vote to Get to the Polls

On Tuesday, the choice is yours. You can sit on the sidelines and watch as strangers who know nothing about you, your values, your needs, or your concerns make important decisions for you and your family.

Or you can be counted by making your voice heard when you cast your ballot on Election Day. Your vote could decide the direction of this country. In fact, it will. Many races literally come down to a handful of votes. A handful. So whoever started that nasty rumor that your vote doesn't matter? That's just a boldface lie. If our votes didn't matter, they wouldn't be working so hard across the country to suppress them. They wouldn't be giving speeches about how worried they are that people will actually "exercise their constitutional right to vote." Yeah. That's an actual thing a politician said last week. They want to discourage us from participating.

When this is all said and done, after every vote is counted, will you be able to say that you did your part?
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Let's not fall for the same old tricks, ladies. And dear gents who might also be reading. We all know better.

We are facing the most important election of our lifetime. When this is all said and done, after every vote is counted, will you be able to say that you did your part?

My mother's mother was an immigrant. My father is an immigrant. I remember when he became a US citizen. How hard he studied for his test. I remember running his flash cards with him. His story, and my grandmother's story, are the reason I take civic engagement and voting so very seriously. Not only is it a privilege, but it's a constitutional right that my family fought to have. I will not take this opportunity for granted. None of us should.

That's why it's hard to believe that only about 40 percent of people vote in midterm elections.

In fact, in the last midterm election (in 2014), we saw the lowest percentage of Americans turn out since World War II. The lowest! It was all the way down to below 37 percent.

Take a moment, and let that sink in, dear readers. If someone gets elected with less than a 37 percent turnout rate — and we have to assume that their opponents also get some of those votes — then that means the person elected is actually representing an even smaller percentage of the people who actually voted! That candidate could be representing, say, 20 percent of their constituents. What about the other 80 percent of you? Don't you want to matter? Don't you want representation for you, influenced by you?

Our vote is our voice. It's how we tell elected officials what matters to us. With such low turnout, how can we expect for our values to be represented or our concerns to be addressed? Why should we even expect that person to care about us? It's absurd.

Let's head to the polls on Nov. 6, honor the legacies of the women who came before us, and create a better world for the women who will come after us.

Look, I totally get how this can feel overwhelming at times. Politics can be nasty. We've all seen it at its worst, and we've also seen it at its best. However, the only way we affect change is by voting.

Now, I know everyday life can be a task within itself. We have demanding jobs and school, children to care for — the list goes on and on — and oftentimes, voting can be the furthest thing from our minds, but we can no longer afford to live on the sidelines. In every election, especially this election, the quality of our children's education is on the line, our parents' and grandparents' ability to get the health care they need is on the line, the kind of roads we drive on and the future direction of our communities are on the line.

It doesn't matter if you have not voted in a long time or even if you have never voted at all, it is never too late to make your voice heard! The opportunity to help shape a better future for our families and our communities is too great to pass up. When it comes to voting, we have an opportunity and a choice. The opportunity to see our values reflected in government and the choice of which values will be represented.

Ladies! We are leaders on all fronts, community builders, and so much more. It is now imperative that we continue to lead on voting. Generations of women before us fought for our right to be able to step into a ballot box. We now have a responsibility to open spaces for generations of women to come. Let's head to the polls on Nov. 6, honor the legacies of the women who came before us, and create a better world for the women who will come after us.

POPSUGAR is proud to be a partner of When We All Vote and further amplify its mission to support every American's responsibility to register and vote.

Image Sources: When We All Vote and Getty / Steve Granitz
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