Why do we vote?

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On the latest episode of Paw'd Defiance, the UW Tacoma podcast, members of the UW Tacoma community talk about why they vote and why they think voting is important.

(Image above: American artist George Caleb Bingham’s “The County Election” depicts an election in the mid-19th century, when only white men were allowed to vote. At the time depicted in the painting, voting was done orally, out loud, called the viva voce method. Image source: National Endowment of the Humanities. Painting was published in the U.S. prior to 1923 and image is in the public domain.)

A group of current students, alumni and members of the larger UW Tacoma community were given a simple prompt. They were asked to talk about why they vote and why they think voting is important.

UW Tacoma Urban Studies alumnus Chris Suh talked about his grandfather who fled North Korea. Recent graduate Christian Bell mentioned her grandparents and the Jim Crow era South. These are just some of the stories on the most recent episode of the UW Tacoma podcast Paw’d Defiance.

Most of the responses were deeply personal and rooted in the idea of service. We can all agree that voting is a civic duty, one all eligible Americans should do, but who counts as eligible has been, and continues to be, a subject of fierce debate. That centuries-long struggle is what service means in this context. As you will hear, many respondents see themselves as casting a ballot for those who couldn’t and for those who can’t.


As of this writing, the U.S. presidential election has yet to be decided. This is a stressful time for many in the UW Tacoma community. In the coming hours and days there is likely to be a flood of misinformation on social media. We recently interviewed Jevin West, director of the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, about this very topic. West offers some useful tips and ways to think about what we’re seeing in these moments after the last ballot has been cast, but not yet counted.

Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / November 4, 2020