Editor’s note: Casting an informed vote

After voting in a federal election for the second time in my life on Monday, I walked away from the polling station with a different feeling than I had back in 2015.

I have always “cared” about politics, the state of our country and the world we live in, to an extent — meaning that I didn’t put as much thought and dedication into understanding the nuances of what the big picture of voting really meant for me at the time, I just did it.

And, hey, I guess that’s better than not doing it at all.

But then Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in 2016 — something I never thought would happen, ever — and I started to pay attention more to the issues that were going on around me and what was affecting people who were dealing with their own, very relevant, struggles.

In this process of trying to further educate myself on the happenings of the world and our dying planet, I realized that for someone who had once considered herself to be reasonably educated on these topics — I really wasn’t.

I’ve been privileged, in many ways, to be willfully ignorant about many aspects of world news — it’s always given me anxiety, and it still does, to try and stay informed about everything all at once, so it was easier to overlook those things for that reason.

But that’s an entitled way to deal with it, and even though there is a crushing amount of dread that can go along with learning and educating yourself about the realities happening to so many disenfranchised people and places.

I can’t just turn my head away and pretend it all doesn’t exist because I choose not to see it.

I think it’s common for the overwhelming amount of issues our planet is facing to make people who don’t directly have to cope with them every day uncomfortable.

However, there are tangible things, however small they may be, that can be done in order to be more conscious of what’s going on around you.

Follow newspapers who write stories in ways that you find digestible and applicable to your reading preferences — they don’t have to be thousands of words long.

Follow accounts on social media, listen to podcasts and watch videos with people who discuss politics and news in ways that you enjoy listening to and engaging with — Philip DeFranco and Hasan Piker being personal favourites of mine.

Look into ways that you can address the issues you care about — I’m becoming, slowly but surely, more and more aware of how my habits are affecting the planet, for example, and this has drastically shifted my perspective on environmentalism over the past few months especially.

I don’t like to think that my choices have had negative implications on the place I call home, on the wildlife and animals I claim to love and respect, but that’s part of becoming a better, more well-informed individual.

During this election season, I took the time to read through the platforms of candidates as thoroughly as I could.

I watched the debate, I looked into the issues that I cared about most and made note of the areas I believed each person was lacking in — climate change, healthcare and Indigenous rights being large factors in my decision making.

I bounced between three different parties in the end, and while I wasn’t one hundred per cent certain about my choice until the day I went to vote, I am completely confident in who I chose to mark an “x” beside on my ballot.

Regardless of the party you voted for, it’s important that you did it, to begin with, if you were able to do so.

I’ve heard so many conversations and discussions about our country’s political climate and what the “right” choice was to make, and I hope that with the high voter turnout for Waterloo, that educated decision making and being aware of what’s happening in our world will become a continuing trend.

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