Nov. 8, 2016, is an important day in American history. It is 22 days away from electing the 45th president of the United States of America. As Americans we are fortunate to live in a country that supports the involvement of its citizenry at all levels of government which includes the unobstructed right to elect those we choose to represent us at the highest level of government. As Americans we want to make sure that we exercise our voting rights afforded us in this democracy. Here are some important reasons why we should show up rain or shine to cast our ballots on Nov. 8.

 1. Voting is a right generations of Americans have struggled to win. Women were denied the right to vote until they gained suffrage in 1919. African Americans, Asians, Latinos and Native Americans and citizens with disabilities have all faced obstacles to voting. Their continued vigilance in this process has only made our democracy stronger.

 2. It is a presidential election year. The Electoral College and its procedure is set forth in the United States constitution: Article II, section 1, clauses 1, 2, 4 and the 12th amendment. We, the voters have the privilege of casting our ballots for a set of members of the Electoral College. These electors then cast direct votes for the president and vice president of the United States to serve a term of 4 years beginning on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017.

3. Issues of importance to you the voter will be influenced by the new executive branch of government. Some of the most prominent topics are military/veterans, civil liberties, the constitution, crime/social justice, gun control, education, the environment, epidemic control, terrorism, health care, national security, immigration, labor, employment, the Supreme Court, agriculture/food, economy, and banking. You should know as much as possible regarding each candidate’s views/position on the major issues facing our country.

4. Higher turnout makes our democracy more representative. The consequences of not voting can reverberate far into the future affecting generations yet to come. The margin of victory is an asset in an election for the winner and loser. That margin can increase or decrease how much of a mandate can be claimed once in office. This margin can encourage or discourage the promoting/advancing of policies so as not to jeopardize re-election.

5. Voting is your voice. Reading, researching and listening is the responsibility of the voter. Campaigns help us to navigate this political process. Again listen intently and analytically to what each candidate has to say. Put your voice into action by voting. Your children, your grandchildren, your neighborhood, your community is counting on you to guide your city, state, country to a future that is supported by a true majority of its citizenry. Voting is your voice.

— Willie Shaw is an NAACP Executive Board Member. , The NAACP Evanston/North Shore is part of the Voter Participation Action Coalition