Guest Blog: Suzanne Pfeffer talks about importance of voting

Below is a guest post by Suzanne Pfeffer, of Stanford University.  Dr. Pfeffer is a past-president of ASBMB.

This election seems to be the most important election of my entire adult life.  There were other elections in the past where I didn’t vote for, or agree with the views of the winner, but we made it through, nonetheless.  This is the first time where the conversation is such that if I quoted the speaker at my workplace, I could lose my job for creating a “hostile work environment.”  When have we ever had two candidates both claim that their opponent was actually “unfit” to serve?  I will spare you the details—you’ve heard enough from the press and during the debates.  My colleagues in Britain woke up one morning and found that they were no longer going to be part of the European Union.  Everyone said that it couldn’t happen but it did.  We cannot let that happen here—the stakes are truly too high.

What can biochemists do?  My department faculty voted to close for half a day to encourage everyone to vote and get out the vote.  Our Dean was very supportive, but the University lawyers told us that we cannot really do that in one unit if another unit has to follow other rules.  So we came up with the following compromise:

Basic science departments at Stanford School of Medicine are encouraging their students, fellows, staff and faculty to vote and help others vote on November 8.  Because balancing the responsibilities of voting with work responsibilities can sometimes be challenging, and because we want to stress to our trainees and colleagues the importance of the electoral process, our departments are all identifying ways to be flexible about work hours to encourage full participation.  We want to make it possible for everyone to participate, even with the important research and teaching that is done at Stanford.  There are may ways to volunteer on election day to get out the vote for your candidate—check their websites.  Please join us in our efforts!

In California, we can vote early by mail and ~60% of voters do this.  In Australia, non-voters are actually fined.  In many European countries, voting takes place on the weekend to encourage greater participation.  If you are a US citizen, please vote; and everyone, please encourage others to vote on November 8.

 

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