The right to vote empowers citizens by giving them a say in who is elected to represent them at the local, state, and federal levels. As the world continues to mourn voting rights advocate and United States Congressman John Lewis and also Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we are reminded that the fight to establish voting as a universal liberty to be enjoyed equally by all is an ongoing effort. An individual’s vote becomes even more influential during a presidential election year, so it is vital that citizens ensure they are registered and exercise their right to be heard when the time comes.
While Election Day 2020 is scheduled for November 3rd, many Americans will be turning to mail-in ballots due to the social distancing measures enacted to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Considering potential delays with the U.S. Postal Service, citizens who vote by mail should start the voting process at least two weeks before their ballots must be received.
With this crucial date approaching, StarTrek.com checked in with cast members from throughout the Star Trek universe to hear their personal opinions on the election and learn why they believe voting is such a crucial element of our society.
Tim Russ (Tuvok, Star Trek: Voyager)
“As we find our right to vote is this very moment under siege by the very leader of our country, it is more important than ever that we fight for our right and opportunity to vote, without undue burden. It is a sacred right, that people have fought and died for both in the military, and as civilians. Change can be directly influenced by those we elect to represent us, and given that our laws and regulations are created and imposed by our elected officials, it is profoundly important to have the opportunity to cast our ballots.”
Jonathan Frakes (William T. Riker, Star Trek: The Next Generation & Star Trek: Picard)
“I think this may be the most important election in my lifetime, and complacency could be an absolute disaster. I believe that right-minded people thought Hillary Clinton was going to win four years ago, and then we were horribly surprised. People like Michael Moore were right, they warned us. There are strong, informed voices who are again warning us that this election is not done until we clear him out of office...
"...I’m particularly interested in the three million expats who may or may not be able to vote. Airmail, which they use to vote, depends on airlines flying in and out of countries that are currently closed to America, including a lot of countries in the Caribbean. I have a friend who is working on heightening awareness around this with Democrats Abroad, which registers and assists voters of both parties. On top of that, the absurd idea that [the party in power] is going to try to slow down the postal service is just beyond the pale.”
Anthony Montgomery (Travis Mayweather, Star Trek: Enterprise)
“As an African-American who, for many years, felt like I never had a right to be heard in any way, I believe voting is essential. Even in 2020, African-Americans are still considered second-class citizens and substandard to varying degrees by people with limited mindsets. To me, voting is more important than almost anything else we can do because there’s only so much you can do to have your voice heard. As a people, if we don’t get out and exercise our right to vote, then we will continue to be overlooked and considered ‘subhuman’ by certain people.
"Even when you exercise your right, that doesn’t mean that your pick is going to win. Regardless, you still have to get out and give yourself, your community, and our country the best chance for all of us to come together. I think that it’s not just about getting Black people out to vote, it's about getting all people out to vote. Because if everyone would get away from politics, they’d see that a president should be a leader for our entire country, not just a base or a select group of people. It's that simple.
"I’m not a political person. I don’t really like politics, because they can get so hateful. It just doesn’t feel good to me, but I do understand the political game. If you’re playing the game of politics, then you should not do it from a standpoint of your own ego. You should do it from a place that is truly for the betterment of the country, of the people you are sworn to serve. All people.
"I love America, this is my country, this is my home. When I hear some white Americans tell me to go back where I’m from, and I’ve been getting that since I was a child… my response is always, “I was born here, I was raised here, so where is it that you would like me to go back to? Go back to Africa? Well, I’ve never actually been to Africa.” To suggest that I get out of a country where my ancestors and I have given our blood, sweat, and tears, just like other Americans, goes against the foundation that this country was built on. To say nothing of going against the values of Gene Roddenberry and the Star Trek universe.
"Voting is crucial. Voting is critical for making this country the way we all want it to be. So, if in my small way, I can use my voice and cast my vote to put us on a path where everyone is counted and valued, and we are truly considered equal, then that’s what I’m going to do. That’s what I will always urge other people to do. To vote and continue “Boldly going” towards forming a more perfect Union.”
Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
“We have to stick up for each other. Voting is the only way that we can create fundamental changes we need to make, like making good healthcare a human right. Without our health we have nothing. [Voting is an essential part of] protecting and fighting for our Black and brown fellow citizens, to whom the rules and laws are unfairly and unjustly stacked against. Black lives matter, and we need to see equality reflected in everything we do, every choice we make as Americans, as human beings.
Voting is a privilege… it’s the way we complain to people in power that they aren’t doing the job we paid them to do and the way we fight for our rights and protect our democracy. Voting is how we fight for what we want, like creating green energy alternatives to protect our planet and give all of us a safe and healthy future. Please vote, your voice matters!”
Liz Vassey (Kristin, Star Trek: The Next Generation)
“Voting is important to me because, first and foremost, I don't believe you can complain about the country in which you live if you haven't taken that step to help shape it. I think it's imperative to have your voice heard regarding the presidential election this year in particular, but it’s about more than that. It’s about the Senate. And SCOTUS [Supreme Court of the United States]. And the House [of Representatives]. The list goes on and on. I‘m also voting because I care deeply about the environment, women's rights, LGBTQ rights, healthcare, gun policy, education, race relations, and having the U.S. become a respected part of the world stage again instead of the jester.”
Armin Shimerman (Quark, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
“All American citizens, whether born here, immigrated here, or brought here and made a citizen, have been given a responsibility for that citizenship by the Founding Fathers to ‘form a more perfect Union.’ We are required by our citizenship to add, participate, and improve the democratic experiment of free elections, which our Revolutionary protestors demonstrated for, fought for, and died for. We can participate in many ways, but the easiest and perhaps the most important is to take the time to vote for candidates that we believe will help improve our country and make it ‘a more perfect Union.’
This is essential for federal, state, and local rule. We must vote not because it is convenient or that you have nothing else to do that day. It is our American inheritance, our civic duty, our moral responsibility to participate personally, and not leave this sacred privilege to others. We've seen countless times where tiny majorities have decided elections. If you do not register to vote, mark your ballot, and participate in elections, you have no right to carp about results or complain about the system and the people elected. If you do not participate, how can you call yourself a citizen of the United States?
Our forebears fought wars to sustain our liberty and the rights of others to a fair and popular vote. Many around the world haven't got our ability to vote and wish they had. It is the best system the world has to ensure a representative government. There is no excuse for not participating in the vote. If we neglect our right to vote, we neglect ourselves and the rights of others. We cannot, must not be relaxed about our hard-fought for elections. Vote in person, vote by mail-in ballot, don't leave it to others, make your voice heard!”
Spencer Garrett (Simon Tarses, Star Trek: The Next Generation; Weiss (Hologram), Star Trek: Voyager)
“I’m well aware of how fragile our democracy is, we are at an inflection point in the life of the American experiment. This is the most important election of my lifetime, and I would venture to say it is the most important election of our lifetimes. This democracy is kind of hanging by a thread right now, so I would urge everybody out there to get out and vote please.
There’s a lot of conversation about voting by mail, but that is a process which is very, very safe. There’s no issue with it. I would crawl over broken glass in a snowstorm in order to vote on November 3rd. Vote like your life depends on it, because it does… particularly this year. Every person of voting age should get out and vote.”
Jay Stobie (he/him) is a freelance writer who contributes articles to the official Star Trek website and Star Trek Magazine, as well as to Star Wars Insider and the official Star Wars website. Jay also serves as a part-time assistant and consultant advising many actors and creatives who work on his favorite sci-fi shows and films. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @StobiesGalaxy.