By U.S. Rep. Colin Allred
Growing up in Dallas, attending our public schools, and being raised by a single mother who taught in Dallas public schools, I idolized Congressman John Lewis from Georgia. Mr. Lewis was a champion of civil rights, a lifelong voting rights activist, and an American hero who believed in the potential of our nation. He never stopped fighting to make sure the voice of every American was heard. Mr. Lewis is a big reason why after my NFL career ended I chose to go to law school to become a voting rights attorney and to go to work here in Texas to help my community vote.
Shortly before he passed, Mr. Lewis said that “this is the most important election in American history.” Now every year politicians say something like that, but for Mr. Lewis to say it, after all he had seen and done, you know we have to listen.
There is so much at stake in this election. From access to affordable health care and protections for people with pre-existing conditions to a recovery from COVID-19 that doesn’t leave anyone behind. The future of our economy, as we work to ensure that everyone has access to a good education and a good job. And the civil rights of every American — because no matter who you are, who you love or where you live, everyone should have a right to pursue their version of the American Dream.
We stand up for these values by voting. For African Americans, the right to vote is almost sacred, because it has always been a fight just to be allowed to participate in our democracy. We can never forget that it is only because of heroes and heroines like John Lewis, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Barbara Jordan and so many others who stood up and even risked their lives to ensure we are able to participate freely today. Barriers certainly still exist, but we can and must overcome them, because as my former boss President Barack Obama likes to say, “Democracy is not a spectator sport,” and we all have to be involved.
The deadline to register to vote is October 5th, so check your status and if you haven’t yet registered, make sure to print out an application and mail it to your county clerk’s office.
If you are 65 or older, sick or disabled, or outside the county during the voting period, you can vote by mail. So, request your ballot today and make sure you mail it back in as soon as possible. Voting by mail is easy, but you have to make sure you follow the instructions carefully and mail your ballot back at least seven days before the November 3rd postmark deadline.
For those who want to vote in person, there is good news. The Governor has extended the early voting period by nearly a week, so early voting starts on October 13th and ends on October 30th. Also new to this year, in Dallas County, you can vote on Election Day, November 3rd, at any voting center in the county, so visit DallasCountyVotes.org to find the vote center closest to you.
Your voice and your vote matters, now more than ever. So, whether you are voting by mail, voting early, or voting on Election Day, make a plan and make sure you vote. Visit my website colinallred.com/voting-information to check your status and to find all the information you need to be involved.