On Election Day, the RoundTable asked voters at the Robert Crown Community Center why they voted and if they are worried about democracy. This is an edited and condensed transcript of their responses.

Gregory Wynn

Gregory Wynn Credit: Richard Cahan

Why did you vote? It’s an essential civic duty. Not like paying taxes, where you are required to. You’re free to vote. And if the whole point of having a democracy is freedom, then the only way to show that you respect and appreciate and value that freedom is to vote.

Are you worried about democracy? Of course. I’ve seen the schemes. I’ve noticed the plans that have been set in motion for quite a few years. The schemes are making it more difficult for people to register, more difficult for them to vote. Look at it from the context of the 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act, where an obstruction to vote was eliminated. Poll taxes and things like that. When the Supreme Court threw those out, they based it partly on the 14th Amendment. What they [recent justices] didn’t look at is that all these other things are equivalent to poll taxes.

Sidni Thomas Credit: Richard Cahan

Sidni Thomas

Why did you vote? Because it’s important. It’s the only way our voices are heard in the system that we have.

Are you worried about democracy? I think Jan. 6 says it all in terms of people getting so upset about thinking that they are right and other people are wrong just because they disagree.

Christopher Hills

Christopher Hills Credit: Richard Cahan

Why did you vote? It’s a democracy. It doesn’t work unless everybody participates. And everybody who is eligible to vote should vote. Even if they don’t like the candidates, write somebody in.

Are you worried about democracy? Very worried. We’ve got to have truth. We’ve got to understand that a fact is a fact. I can’t have an argument with you if we can’t even agree on what the facts of the situation are. Once we agree on that, then we can disagree on which way to go. We have to stop demonizing somebody who doesn’t agree with us. We have to have civility.

Laura Beth Nielsen

Laura Beth Nielsen Credit: Richard Cahan

Why did you vote? Because I would like the world to be a better place. I would like Evanston to be a better place. I’d like the whole country to be a better place. I like to live in a society where people have food and health care and public transportation and where the environment is not dying. And where nobody else talks about my uterus but me and my doctor

Are you worried about democracy? Yes. Profoundly. Deeply. I think that the consistent refrain that people are lying and cheating and it is broken leads to a certain level of apathy. I think the rules are rigged a little bit. So you disenfranchise one out of every two Black men in this country and you gerrymander the districts such that democracy is troubled. And I’m profoundly worried about it. It just feels very helpless.

Kyler Bunton

Kyler Bunton Credit: Richard Cahan

Why did you vote? I voted for my family. I’ve a lot of family that are women. I voted mainly to support women’s rights and pro-choice.

Are you worried about democracy? I’m not too worried about democracy. I kind of like the two-party system right now. I feel like it’s working still. I think during my lifetime, we’re still going to have it. I don’t think there’s going to be any type of dictatorship or anything like that. I’m pretty content with how things are right now. I feel like voting is easy. Although I know in some places – not here – it’s harder to vote.

Bruce Hirsch

Bruce Hirsch Credit: Richard Cahan

Why did you vote? It means a lot to me living in this country born here. It’s the most important thing I do.

Are you worried about democracy? Sure. Absolutely. Yes. Yes. Yes. I’m terrified. Yes, absolutely. Yeah. The worry was created because I’m a news junkie and I love Rachel Maddow. I watch the news and  this whole thing was explained. It just became clear that this whole thing was scripted from the very start. And they did not mean for this to end well at all. They still don’t. The whole thing is a replacement of the president with a monarch or appointed monarch, a dictator, a satrap. It’s so wrong.

Blair Rudd

Blair Rudd Credit: Richard Cahan

Why did you vote? I voted because it’s our governmental right. Women did not have the right to vote for many years. And it’s very important to show representation and to come out and vote. It’s always a profound experience. I think it’s important as an American to represent ourselves and to use our voice to go out and vote.

Are you worried about democracy? I’m worried about the state of this country in general. Our country right now is so divided in every manner possible. So we need to go out there, especially as women and as minorities, to get out there and vote.

Colin Bailey

Colin Bailey Credit: Richard Cahan

Why did you vote? I’m voting because I feel it’s important to participate. And I feel like, especially as a teacher, there’s some important issues on the ballot. And I want to make sure that my voice is heard. Most important is the Workers’ Rights Amendment. And women’s rights. I voted for candidates that have those two top things on their agenda.

Are you worried about democracy? Absolutely. Absolutely. I think the more that people get out and vote the more secure democracy is going to be. And so I think it’s really important that people are coming out and voting. I worry that you will have a minority block ruling the majority of people. And I feel like sometimes not everybody’s voices is heard. I really truly believe that the easier it is to vote, the better our nation is going to be. If we don’t have everybody’s voice included, we are ruled by a more powerful, more wealthy minority.

Maudlyne Ihejirika

Maudlyne Ihejirika Credit: Richard Cahan

Why did you vote? I voted because our country is at a crossroads right now.  If you sit it out, if you feel like you can’t make a difference, then you’ve let the country go to whatever side is the majority. There’s so much strong division and hatred in our nation right now that you’ve got to take a stand. And hopefully that stand will make a difference in swaying us back to the middle ground where we belong.

Are you worried about democracy? Oh, my God, yes. Yes. Our democracy is under attack right now. There’s a whole segment of this population that believes that they can just willy-nilly change the way our nation has operated since that first draft of the Constitution – problematic as that Constitution was with all of its mistakes about equality and race. It got some things right. And that is the democracy, the structure of our democracy, and that is under threat.

Justin Hart

Justin Hart Credit: Richard Cahan

Why did you vote? I think it’s important not only to make sure that you’re heard, but also to be informed on the issues. And when you come to the polling place, you vote for people that will represent the way that you think that society should be formed. Well, I always vote. I think it’s important. People died for this, right?

Are you worried about democracy? Of course, I’m worried about democracy, particularly right now with this sort of level of conversation around. The rhetoric coming out from some candidates right now is very authoritarian-sounding.

Richard Cahan takes photos for the Evanston RoundTable. He also is publisher of CityFiles Press, a small but mighty media company that believes in the power of words and pictures. You can reach him at...

One reply on “Democracy on Evanston voters’ minds: ‘People died for this, right?’”

  1. Thanks for asking why people vote. My favorite quote is from Gregory Wynn. He was to the point & eloquent. Laura Beth Nielsen covered my list & with the mid-term election punchline.

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