Expert panel explains importance of voting

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Photo courtesy of the Legal Studies Institute and the Office of Student Engagement

“Democracy is not a promise,” says legal studies professor Kymberly Jackson. “When we look at our democracy, we see something that is constantly being reevaluated and reshaped.”

Summer Cox, Digital Media Editor

A panel of election experts in October urged AACC students to vote. 

Organized by AACC’s Legal Studies Institute, the Voter Engagement panel featured Special Appeals Court Judge Douglas Nazarian; Maryland Board of Elections Deputy Administrator Nikki Banes Charlson, Vice President of the League of Women Voters Dr. Gail Viamonte, and AACC legal studies professor Kymberly Jackson. 

“Democracy is not a promise,” Jackson said. “When we look at our democracy, we see something that is constantly being reevaluated and reshaped. If we don’t vote, we are not taking advantage of that opportunity to participate…It’s our legacy.” 

Viamonte, an AACC architecture and design graduate, agreed. 

“This is our world, and if we don’t vote we are basically leaving it to others to decide what that world will be for us, as well as everyone else,” she said. 

Nazarian said it’s important for voters to cast ballots not just for president but for other elected officials as well. 

This is the time where you have a voice that people have fought and died for, he said. 

As someone who works in public service, we work for you, and you give us the opportunity to do that. The way you give us that opportunity is to vote.” 

He added: “It’s important to vote for president. It’s important to vote for the elections you see on TV. But when you look down the ballot there are a lot of other offices that are really important to the way you live. It’s easy to say, ‘My vote doesn’t count.’ I live in Baltimore County, and our county executive won his primary by just 17 votes.”  

Panelists also explained Maryland’s voting process and assured the audience that mail-in ballots count. 

“Our online voter lookup will tell you when your ballot has been received and when it’s been counted,” Charlson said. “After the election, we send all of the ballot images to a third party to compare the votes that we have against the votes that they retabulate. That gives us an audit of all of the ballots that have been counte and we post those results on our website.” 

Election Day was Nov. 3.