“It depends on what’s going to happen in October with Loukeeloo,” said my mom as she pushed her red walker through the living room into the kitchen. My brow furrowed in confusion, Lucy Liu? I had no idea why my mom was talking about Lucy Liu of “Charlie’s Angels” fame, because as far as I knew she had nothing to do with the election, which was what we were talking about after all.

“You know, that guy from Sweden,” was my mom’s response when I asked her about it. “We’ll just wait and see what he releases next, and October seems to be when it will happen.”

Those two sentences snapped everything into focus, and I tried – the operative word is “tried” – to gently remind her that is wasn’t Loukeeloo, but Wikileaks and Julian Assange she was referring to. She smiled and replied that she had no idea why she called it what she did, but that it was Wikileaks and Assange she was actually referring to, and the possible effect any further leaks would have on the presidential election.

It never fails to amaze me how often this has happened in our household in the past few months. No matter how many times she refers to Wikileaks as Loukeeloo, I always go to Lucy Liu in my mind. You’d think by now, after all of the election-centered discussions we’ve had, I’d automatically catch on, but no such luck.

If you haven’t already figured it out, we are a household that doesn’t shy away from political discussions, but one that routinely discusses “who’s who” and “what’s what” in detail and, to others, boring detail, I’m sure. My mom is a late-night news watcher, so she always has something new to contribute to the conversation in the morning, and I am a voracious news gatherer trying to get to the bottom of what I read and see on the internet.

As far back as I can remember, we have been that type of family, and even though as individuals we have landed all over the political map, we have always been able to keep discussion civil if not impassioned.

When my dad was alive, we were almost always on the opposite sides of an issue, but that didn’t stop us from having frequent discussions about any given political topic. He was the one who tried – operative word again being “tried” – to get me to vote when I was young, but I freely admit his urgings fell on deaf ears until I was in my late 20s, when I realized that maybe voting did make a difference.

When I had my son, I always took him to the polls with me, lugging him in in his car-seat carrier when he was an infant, then having him help me push out those infamous and vexing chads when he was older. He’s now 18, and this will be the first election he votes in, and to say this his first presidential election is a doozy is an understatement.

With blocks of demographic groups not sure who they’ll vote for, like the millennials and women, this election is a nail-biter. Throw in the Electoral College and the popular vote, with the very present reality that one candidate could win one and the other candidate could win the other, causes the election to take on entirely different undertones. If only because this is not the year 2000 America where Bush and Gore battled for the Electoral College votes in Florida, which tipped the election to Bush, even though Gore won the popular vote.

In states like California, where it’s winner-take-all for our Electoral College votes and that means all our votes will go to Hillary. And, even if you don’t want her as your president, it’s still important to vote. This is because elections are about a lot more than just who runs for president. There are state and local candidates on our ballots who make decisions that affect our lives, along with state and local initiatives that can change the course of where our state and county will go. To say that every vote counts is an understatement.

In this vein, I’m always reminded of the years I worked for members of the state Assembly. At a town hall meeting in Jackson, one woman was being particularly disruptive and disrespectful to the assemblyman I worked for. He was patient in answering her questions for quite a while, but finally after a great many interruptions he made a statement I’ll never forget.

“Miss,” he said, “I’ve heard your concerns and complaints, and if you don’t like the job I’m doing in Sacramento, by all means vote against me in the next election.”

I think I remember what he said because it was the first time I’ve ever heard a politician tell someone to vote against him, but more than that it showed the best thing about our political system. Every person of voting age has a voice. It’s important to remember that America is still unique in this, and to not let the political rhetoric or disgust with politics keep you from making your voice heard because all of the elections matter in how our country is run, and not just who will be the next president.

Sarah Lunsford is a freelance journalist living in Murphys. You can reach her at selunsford@gmail.com.

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