What do a dairy farmer, the New York State Senate and LGBT equality have in common?
The answer: 18 votes.
Two years ago, Cecilia Tkaczyk was running for office in the 46th Senate District in the Capital Region of New York. At the time, she was relatively unknown as a political leader in a district that had been rezoned specifically to secure a Republican seat. The odds were against CeCe.
Groups like the Pride Agenda and others that were advocating for equality in New York -- whether for LGBT rights, women's rights, the environment, education or any number of other issues -- wanted to see CeCe win and put our power behind her to try to turn the polls in her favor.
After a lot of sweat and tears, knocking on doors and making phone calls, it all came down to Election Day. Despite the forecasts and all that the opponent had done to seize the votes, in the end CeCe was victorious, though the margin was incredibly close -- so close, in fact, that the winner wasn't declared until Jan. 18! She won by just 18 votes!
It's that time of year when you'll see memes and signs and commercials that try to beat it into you that your vote matters, that every vote counts. It's easy to feel disenfranchised from that banter and from your role in government more generally. It often feels like what you, as one individual, say or do doesn't actually have an impact on the big picture.
The truth is, though, that you do have the power to influence change in government, and, in fact, we need each and every individual citizen to realize that and to speak up on behalf of those issues that are meaningful to you. You might be one of the 18 people who decide not to vote, and that decision could make the difference between electing a pro-LGBT senator or one who doesn't support our issues. Every vote counts on the floor of the Senate, and losing that one vote could mean the difference between passing laws that further equal rights and being left high and dry as second-class citizens.
At the Pride Agenda, we've been busy vetting all the candidates running for office in New York and supporting those who commit to furthering LGBT equality and justice. To support our get-out-the-vote efforts (and have some fun) we launched an "#OUTtheVote" campaign to encourage LGBT New Yorkers and allies to show us why they will vote on Tuesday, Nov. 4.
Remember, we elect the officials who represent us. We have the power to keep them in office or show our voting power and elect someone who will stand up for us, and we have a responsibility to exercise our democratic right to vote.
Tell us why you'll #OUTtheVote on Election Day, and join me at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4!