UNITED STATES—It is hard to believe that Election Day is a few days away and it feels it has snuck up on us as Americans. However, the one thing I want to harp on more than anything is that you should NOT take your right to vote for granted. I know I am not like all Americans, but when it comes to voting, I always vote at the local, state and national level. I don’t just head to the poll when the opportunity to vote when the U.S. presidency is at stake.

The President of the United States has power, but he or she (it has not happened yet) are not the most powerful in the land. The people you elect for mayor, school districts, judges (on the local and state level), board of commissioners for various universities, governor, senator and representatives all impact your life. Some in small ways, others in major ways. Do not ignore the power that you have. Get out there, do your research, study the candidates, see who benefits you and will fight for the things that matter most to you.

Don’t just sit back and listen to what others say or what others are telling you. Do the actual work, why? It can have a long-lasting impact on your life, but more importantly the lives of your family and perhaps your children. The impact can be everlasting and endless at times. With that said, I want to talk about the countless excuses I hear from people when it comes to voting. I hear, oh, I have to work, I have school, I don’t feel good, it’s cold, it’s raining, I don’t want to wait in line, the excuses continue endlessly.

Are you kidding me? You can’t take a few minutes or a few hours out of the 1 day or 3-4 days in the year where you get to say and speak how you feel to cast a ballot? Please explain that to me. I mean the first opportunity I was able to register to vote I did it right away without a delay. Why? To me it was not just a right, but a privilege, but as an African-American male, my ancestors, my grandparents were denied that right to vote, and when the opportunity to vote arose, they were intimidated at the polls when they tried to vote. By other individuals, by police officers, dogs attacking them, being beaten, being sprayed with firehoses, the list goes on.

I don’t have to suffer such chaos, I don’t have to deal with that. There is no dogs attacking me or anyone attempting to beat me with a police baton, so what excuse do I have? There is NO EXCUSE! I need to vote because there are people who came before me that fought tirelessly so that I could have the opportunity to voice how I feel. I feel it’s a slap in a face to those who came before me if I don’t go to the poll and vote. There is no excuse, unless I’m just dying and I can’t get to the polls, and even if that were the case I could cast an absentee or mail in ballot to ensure my vote still counts America.

Nothing annoys me more when I hear grown adults, (some who are actual celebrities) voicing for the first time that it is the first time they’ve voted. It baffles me, it shocks and it really angers me when I hear such things. You’re taking for granted a right that you have and think you should have a pat on the back because you finally voted? Really? Get the hell out of my face, if anything those are the same people constantly complaining about issues in the country, but they didn’t vote and they should have actual voted. That is beyond crazy and ridiculous to hear to say the least.

November 3 is right around the corner, and I’ve seen more ads, negative and positive than I can imagine. No matter rather you are Republican, Democrat or an Independent or you have no party affiliation, you have a civic duty to vote. Get out there and let your voice be heard because if you don’t the last thing people want to hear is you complain about things that you had an opportunity to change, but you sat back and did nothing.