#WhyWeVote Campaign | Michael Schmidt’s #WhyIVote Story
[VIDEO DESC: Michael, a white male, is wearing a white blouse with a tie decorated with stars on a blue background and red and white stripes. Behind him is a red background with wooden panels.]
[Slide shows the content: Do you remember the first time you voted? What was that like?]
Do I remember the first time I voted? Yes! When I was in my early twenties, my neighbor was running for an elected position for city of Fremont. He was against real estate companies pushing for housing on Fremont hills – he disagreed with that and yes, I agreed with his platform. I love the hills in Fremont – very pretty to see – especially after the rains in the spring when the hills become all green and in the summer, the hills become all gold. I love the view of my hills and housing on the hills would had been an eye sore. So I decided to register to vote. Later I was informed the address of where I should vote at – not too far from my home. When it was time to vote, I went over there – some person’s house run by volunteers – voting was conducted in the garage. I met with the front desk people and identified myself and sure enough, my name was on the list because I had already registered. They gave me the ballot and I went inside the booth to vote. As I exited my booth and deposited my ballot, I happened to came across my neighbor who arrived there the same time I was leaving and I gave him a thumb-up! Gestured to him that I already voted and he gave me a thumb-up back! I felt inspired! I voted for my neighbor, my city, my county, and my country. It was inspiring for me and I felt like an adult that day. (Waving the flag).
[Slide shows the content: Why is it important to you to vote?]
Why is it important to vote? Ahh yes..why? Point is.. Change. If you want to change something or change an elected someone, you will have to vote. Keep something the same or replace someone – you have to vote. Some issues brought to your attention that you either agree or disagree with, you’ll have to vote. Nothing happens if you do not vote.
[Slide shows the content: Do you remember your grandmother voting?]
Do I remember my grandmother voting? I was a child growing up during the 60’s so I don’t remember much. During the early 1950’s, my grandmother and my grandfather (both Deaf) were living in Venezuela, South America (signing Venezuela) my grandfather was working there and they didn’t vote for a long while (19 years) until they returned to America so my grandmother probably voted later.
[Slide shows the content: Who was the first person in your family to vote?]
The first in my family to vote? Probably my parents (both Deaf). My father was working for the newspapers back then and always reading the news and he influenced and encouraged my mother who was young and 21 at the time to vote because it was important – it was her civil duty to vote as U.S. citizen and she said “OK-OK” and voted for the first time in the city of Hayward. So she voted at every elections ever since. The election this coming November, she still intends to vote. She is currently 84 years old!
Back in the days when my mother was a student at Maryland School for the Deaf, the school was informed that a Presidential candidate will be stopping at the train station in Fredrick, MD. Students from the deaf school (MSD) would go over there to the train station and witnessed this presidential candidate speaking from a train car. That candidate was Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower. My mom and MSD students saw him despite no interpreting were provided but at least they saw someone famous! Soon after later, Ike would become our 34th U.S. President. He served two terms: 1953 to 1961.
[What message do you offer to the community about voting?]
My message for those in the community about voting? I met many people who did not vote when asked. Their various excuses: “No, I don’t want to vote”, “voting bores me”, “I’m not interested to vote” “Other people can vote for me” and I would often respond to them, “No-no, you have to vote!” Really, from my observations, most of them actually felt awkward or do not know how or lack the confidence when it comes to voting. I often tell them you can get help with this and there are people out there willing to support you when it comes to registering to vote, people can also explain issues to you, and currently there are available videos in ASL explaining several propositions they can watch and determine which to vote for. You can make personal notes of which propositions you agree or disagree with or vote YES or No to. When it is time to vote, you can bring your notes with you and fill out your answers into your voting ballot. This will help you successfully submit your ballot! Yes you can! You have to take the initiative rather than being apathetic about not voting and making excuses because you are bored or assuming others will vote for you. For example, there are services you are dependent on and supposedly the services you rely on suddenly will stop? (Do-do?) You have to vote!
[Slide shows the content: If you could change 1 or 2 things about the country (or our community), what would they be?]
What changes do I want to see in this community or country? Really, anything that benefits Deaf people and Deaf community. Deaf rights, communication and language access, education, jobs and training, interpreting. I want to see Deaf children have ASL incorporated into their lives much earlier not much later. I want to see more job and training opportunities for young Deaf adults rather than being neglected. Raise the quality of life for Deaf people and their communities.
[Slide shows the content: Will you vote this year? How important is it to vote this year?]
Will I be voting this year? BIG YES! I intend to vote and I am so ready!! I feel lately the leadership and events in this country have been very chaotic and messy – shifting left and right off-center. There is a need to bring ourselves back to center – into the straight and narrow – strive for clarity so we can progress forward together toward the future – for the better good for all of us. Therefore we must vote!