I turned 18 during a presidential election year. At the time, it didn’t mean much to me, but I still registered and voted in New York. I somehow knew that I had to do my part. More than 20 years later, I’ve voted in every major election but — until recently — I’ve ignored the primaries. Other Soapbox staffers and readers haven’t been so negligent. Read on to see why they vote and be sure to head to the polls today, if you haven’t already.

“I vote because my grandfather and his brother literally crawled out of Russia in a pack of sheep to escape the Pogroms,” says Gary Kessler, photographer. “They made it to Ellis island after two years and had a good life in the USA. My grandfather always said ‘Don’t talk to me if you didn’t vote, it’s the difference between here and everywhere else!’”

“I’m voting for progress and racial tolerance and justice in our city, and for those who stand for truth and honesty in the election process,” says Connie Springer, artist, writer, and photographer.

But it’s not just us at Soapbox voting — residents also weighed in about exercising this crucial right — and they hope you’re inspired to do the same thing today.

“I vote because we can and because that wasn't always the case, especially for women and people of color. Voting is our fundamental right as Americans, and it's one of our most important freedoms.” — Ilene Ross Tucker

“I vote because it is my responsibility as a citizen to help elect those who move my community and my country forward ethically and honestly.” — Mimi Morris

“I vote because I care about the future of my city, state, and nation.” —
Michelle French Kennedy

“I vote to protect the vulnerable.” — Amber Sheehan

And — because we know the children are watching: “I vote so my kids know I am paying attention and every election matters (not just presidential).” — Megan Ward Jones
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Read more articles by Jessica Esemplare.

Jessica Esemplare is the managing editor of Soapbox Cincinnati and a graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Shortly after completing her degree in magazine journalism, she began covering local and regional topics at The Cincinnati Herald and, later, as an editor at Ohio Magazine. Her writing has also been featured in U.S. News and World Report.