In case you were unaware, which I hope is not the case, the primary election is coming up. On November 3rd, 2020 the United States will be engaging in a primary election following four years of an eventful presidential term. Voting is one of the most important acts that a person can do in the United States to exercise their rights and make sure their voice is heard. That being said, voting is not accessible for many in the United States with the difficulties that are gaining citizenship, registering to vote, voting safely during a pandemic, voter suppression, and more.
What is even more crucial is making sure that all those who are eligible to vote, vote. In the United States, a person gains the right to vote at the age of 18, but what many young adults are unaware of is the need to register to vote. There are many resources available to voters of all ages, one of my favorites being vote.org. On this website, voters can check their registration (it only takes 30 seconds!), register to vote, learn how to vote by mail, and if you are under the age of 18, you can pledge to vote which will send you a reminder on your 18th birthday so you remember to register.
This election is going to be one unlike any in the history of the United States with a record number of voters voting by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are someone who is planning to vote by mail, make sure you request your ballot in time. Each state has a different deadline which you can check here. However, because of the lack of funding to the United States Post Office, many voters and government officials are concerned about if absentee (or mail in) ballots are going to be delivered in time to be counted for the primary election. For this reason, it is recommended by the United States Postal Service that you submit your ballot by mail at least one week before Election Day. You can check to see when the state you are voting in requires your absentee/mail in ballot to be delivered by. For example, in Minnesota where the Feminist Book Club headquarters are, you must be registered to vote at least one day before the election, but it is recommended that when you vote by mail you are registered seven days in advance.
Although voting is a fundamental right in the United States, it is not easily accessible for many people, and for those who are in the best circumstance to register and vote, it can still be a confusing process. When I turned 18 I remember registering to vote in Wisconsin, where I was living with my parents at the time, and to register to vote, I had to go into our courthouse to submit my papers with my drivers license. Additionally, the next year when I was 19 I wanted to request and absentee ballot for the 2016 Primary Election. To do so I had to go into the courthouse once again with my drivers license, proof of residence, and a reason why I needed an absentee ballot. This process makes it very difficult for anyone to vote, even someone like myself who is not being disadvantaged by our voting system.
Voting in the United States needs to be improved. It is unaccessible for so many and do not even get me started on the Electoral College that was created to represent the voices of the public but in action does the opposite. With all of this in mind, voting is not a topic that has gained a great deal representation in children’s or young adult literature and Brandy Colbert, an incredible author, changed all of that with her new book The Voting Booth.
The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert is an incredible representation of voting and its importance that young adults will be able to relate to. This book takes place over the course of one day, voting day. As the reader, you are unaware if the day is for the primary or mid-term elections, however, that does not make a difference because voting in every election is just as important. On this voting day, we follow Marva and Duke, two young adults who have entirely different reasons for being at the polls that morning, but for both of them this is an important election because it is their first one as newly turned 18 year olds. As Duke is turned away from the polls, Marva takes it upon herself to make sure Duke votes and although they are complete strangers, a friendship is created with each conflict they face on election day.
As a reader, I love young adult novels. In my opinion they can be some of the most powerful books written because they are able to share serious topics in a way that is relatable to people of all ages. Brandy Colbert is one of my favorite young adult authors, as Little and Lion is a book I always recommend as an incredible novel about identity, mental health, and friendship. The Voting Booth is no different with its incredible portrayal of first time voters and their anxieties around a system that is not made to represent the public, but a select few. Brandy Colbert takes on the “difficult” topics that keep coming up time and time again such as racism and gun violence which are driving factors for many voters.
Brandy Colbert writes The Voting Booth to be accessible for all readers while also asking them to reflect on their privilege and how the outcomes of elections can leave many people’s, specifically white people’s, lives unchanged. However, for young adults and people who reflect Marva and Duke, two Black teens, the outcome of an election can determine what their future holds and how the systems of oppression are sustained.
The Voting Booth is a quick read (or a quick listen!) and is one that will ask you to think before you cast your vote in November. Brandy Colbert writes love-able and well rounded characters in this book set over the course of one day so make sure you pick this book up before November 3rd!