Ingrid Nilsen Wants To Talk To You About Voting
If you're choosing not to vote this November, YouTuber Ingrid Nilsen respects your decision — even if she doesn't agree with it. Nilsen, who has been incredibly outspoken during the 2016 presidential election, recognizes that it's everyone's personal choice to vote or not vote. But that doesn't mean she doesn't want to have a conversation about why someone would choose the latter option. "It is someone's choice to vote or not vote. Do I have an opinion on that? Yes, I do have an opinion on that," Nilsen tells me in an interview. "I think that it is unfortunate when people decide not to vote, and I have encountered people that have, at one point at least, told me that's the stance they were taking."
Nilsen's commitment to approaching people's varying choices from a place of understanding rather than judgment is certainly admirable. But her desire to have an open dialogue with people about the potential impact of their vote is particularly inspiring, given her massive platform and audience.
"The conversation that I try to have with people is about unlocking the power that they hold within themselves, especially when you're a woman, especially when you are part of a group of people who has traditionally been underrepresented," Nilsen says.
While Nilsen certainly hasn't been quiet on social media about her personal political leanings, she tells me that the importance of this election goes beyond day-to-day politics.
"I think that I have been using the word 'vital' a lot in terms of this election, because it's not only the most vital election that I've seen in my lifetime, but I think it is the case for so many other people who are older than me," Nilsen says. "I think it's an election that can take our country in a drastically different direction, depending on who wins the election. I think what we've seen with this moral disarray and fear in people is unlike anything that we have seen in the past. It's almost people feel like they're in a state of crisis, and fear, and anger."
Fear is something that Nilsen mentions again when she tells me what she would say to someone who chooses not to vote in an election as high-stakes as this one.
"I would like to see people be more well-informed and feel more empowered, instead of feeling like opinions are being forced on them, and feeling afraid, and feeling disheartened," Nilsen says, noting that she believes a major reason that people choose note to vote is because the process is complicated and often confusion. "When you go to vote, you look at the ballot and it's like, 'Am I about to take a test?'"
Nilsen's concerns about voting being more complicated than necessary aren't unfounded, either. In fact, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, 14 states now have more restrictive voting laws than they did four years ago. And although Nilsen acknowledges that perhaps there are some improvements to be made to the system, she doesn't see this as an excuse not to make your voice heard and your opinion count.
"It's easy to tell people, 'I'm not going to vote because I don't like either of them,' or, 'I'm not going to vote because votes don't actually count.' I think what that's ultimately saying is, 'I'm not going to vote because it's too hard.' I am of the belief that not doing something because it's hard is a cop-out," Nilsen says. "That is not justification for not doing something. Life is hard. You have resources in front of you that you can use to educate yourself. So many of us in this country have the internet. There [are] libraries. You can talk to people. There are ways to educate yourself, and that's ultimately what I think it stems back to."
This election is certainly a challenging (and often frustrating) one to say the least, but Nilsen is committed to staying vocal, active, and open in her discussions about voting and the future of our country.
"I have felt really great in these conversations with people who have started feeling disheartened and saying, 'I'm not going to vote for anyone.' I think what they really need is someone who they feel is talking to them and not attacking them," Nilsen says.
In such a divisive political climate, the fact that Nilsen says she can have influential conversations with people while reserving judgment is something we could all learn from as Nov. 8 approaches.
"I've had these conversations where, a couple weeks later or a month later, the people have decided, 'I'm going to vote now,'" Nilsen says. "That just makes me so happy. It makes me just over-the-moon happy."