Special Election Episode

Ep 88: Special Election Episode (transcript)

Some past and future First Draft interviewees share their stories about voting, how their characters would vote, love of stickers, and one story of a jujutsu-master suffragette!

The original post for this episode can be found here. It’s also available for download on iTunes or Stitcher.

Morgan Matson, author of THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHINGAMY AND ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR, and more (listen to her First Draft interview here)

Hi, I’m Morgan Matson and my most recent book is THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING. So, this is a story about being left out of the voting process. Four years ago, in 2012, I was living in Paris during election day. So I had done my absentee ballot, I had sent it in — it was over. And then I was just in France. And I remember I was feeling so lonely on Election Day. I went to the Musee D’Orsay and was just kind of walking around Paris doing my thing, but really missing being a part of everything that was happening with the vote. Realizing how wonderful it is to be a part of a community on election day. I missed going to the polls, I missed talking to everyone about it, I missed talking to everyone about it and watching the returns.

It just made me so aware of how amazing the process is, and how unique and special it is for us in the country, and how privileged we are to have it. Because, even though I voted, I didn’t have that amazing community feeling.

I’m so excited this year to go out, to go to my polling place, to get my sticker, and to be able to talk to people on the street, and in my Starbucks, and celebrate this amazing democracy we have and this process that everyone in the country gets to participate in. So I would just say, please don’t take it for granted. Get out there, be a part of it, and go vote.

Elana K. Arnold, author of INFANDOUSFAR FROM FAIR, the forthcoming WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF, and more (listen to her First Draft interview here)

I write because I love the world. I love this great big beautiful, messy, wonderful and sometimes terrible world. I love it so much that I think about it, I talk about it, and I feel compelled to say things about it through the voices of my characters. I can’t imagine a world in which I didn’t write. That’s the same reason why I vote. I vote because I love this great big wonderful, sometimes terrible world. I have a lot to say about it, I think a lot about it, I want to be a part of it, I want to be involved in it, I want to help shape it to be better and stronger. That’s why I vote and that’s why I’ll be voting this week for Hillary Clinton for president.


I am here to ask you to please, please, please go vote November 8. It is so important. I think that every single one of my characters would be voting, and they would definitely be voting or Hillary Clinton. I think even the Commandant would be voting for Hillary Clinton, which is saying something. In all seriousness, it is so important for you to exercise your democratic right to vote. It’s such a gift we’ve been given to vote in free and fair elections. There are so many places in the world where that’s not true. So please take the opportunity to go and vote this Tuesday. Take care!

Mackenzi Lee, author of THIS MONSTROUS THING and THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE (listen to her First Draft interview here)

I would like to tell you about Edith Garrud, one of my favorite suffragettes from turn of the century England. Edith was born in the late 1800s in Somerset, and just shortly after getting married she got super into martial arts. She got super in jujutsu and bartitsu which is this super weird stick fighting that was invented by a guy with a badass mustache and she became a master of it. The fact that her signature move was flipping guys over her shoulder was even more impressive because she was only 4’11! So around this time  the Suffrage movement in Britain was taking off, women were fighting, like literally fighting, often with the police and their husbands and like rando douchebags on the street for the right to cast their ballots in the election and have their say in elected officials and in the laws they would have to follow. And Edith noticed that the police were brutalizing the suffragettes at their rallies. They were beating them, and bloodying them, and abusing them on the streets. So what’s a girl to do but teach the suffragettes jujutsu… obviously!

Edith opened a women’s-only gym where she taught the suffragettes self-defense and feminist ass kicking and how to defend themselves against douchebag brutality. From her students, Edith assembled an ass-kicking, hell-raising, face-breaking girl gang of 30 hardcore ladies to protect the movement’s leaders, like Emmeline Pankhurst against the police. They’d go to rallies dressed in skirts and corsets and when the police went for them because they were like, ‘Oh, look, I’m this helpless lady,’ then — KAPOW! — they would whip out bowling pins and trenchants from under their voluminous skirts and they would beat the police into potted plants they had laced with razor wire and Edith would probably flip them over her shoulder onto the ground. It’s pretty badass, but also a good reminder that voting was so important to these women that they would risk their lives and freedoms for the right to do it. So please, in honor of Edith Garrud, kick some ass today and go vote!

Brandy Colbert, author of POINTE and the forthcoming LITTLE AND LION (listen to her First Draft interview here)

So, anyone who knows me knows I am not the most political person. I definitely like to keep up with what’s going in the world, but probably the most political show I watch with any regularity is Scandal, if that tells you anything. But I think it’s  so important to get out and vote as often as possible. First, because obviously if you don’t like the laws that are in place, voting gives you the chance to try to vote out the lawmakers who are making those laws, or even try to change the laws themselves. But most important to me is that, as a black American with ancestry and family in the south, we weren’t always granted the right to vote. As a young girl, my mom went to a school in Arkansas that had to be de-segregated. And that might sound like a long time ago, but my mom is only in her early 60s. And my southern  family was only allowed to vote in the last 50 years. My ancestors built this country, but they weren’t considered full human beings at the time. Exercising my right to vote is a way to honor those who came before me, and all that was taken away from them.

Cat Winters, author of IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDSTHE CURE FOR DREAMING, and THE UNINVITED, and more (listen to her First Draft interview here)

I strongly urge you to go out and vote if you are a United States citizen aged 18 years or older, you definitely have the right, you have the power, and you should make sure you go out and make your voice heard. That is the best way to deal with the world that feels like it’s spinning out of control. If you are frustrated by this year and what’s happening with the presidential election, or any other issues that are going on in your own community — there’s a lot of other measures and other government positions that are being decided throughout the United States — this is your time to go out and make your opinion count. 

I have written a novel about the fight for the right to vote, my young adult novel THE CURE FOR DREAMING takes place during the election of 1900, and it’s about a time when women in most of the states were not allowed to vote. It’s about a 17-year-old girl who is fighting for the right to vote, joining fellow suffragettes in this fight. it’s a part of history I don’t think is taught enough in classrooms across the United States, but it’s a piece of history that really taught me I should never take my right to vote for granted. People suffered emotional and physical distress just in order for people like me, and the women I know in my life, to obtain the right to vote. So go out, make your voice heard, and I guarantee you’re going to feel at least a little bit better about what’s going on in the world if you make your opinion count.

Somaiya Daud, author of the forthcoming MIRAGE (listen to her First Draft interview here)

This is my third election. I voted for Obama in the first two. I’ve always thought it was really important to vote, just because as an African American and as the daughter of a Moroccan immigrant, and as a Muslim, and as a woman, so many people have fought for us to have the ability to vote, for us to determine the future of our country. And It’s so easy I think to get lost in the hyperbolics of any election cycle, but I think this is one where the hyperbole, where people are saying things like, ‘The future of the world is at stake,’ is not an exaggeration and not hyperbole. To neglect that, or to ignore that, or to assume that any outcome of this election is okay is to ignore the reality of the situation and the millions of people in the United States and outside the United States whose lives, quite literally, are at stake. So if you have the ability to vote, I think it’s imperative that you do. If you care at all about your fellow human, regardless of religion, gender, creed, or sexuality, or any of those things, it’s imperative that you go out and vote. If you cannot vote for any reason, I think there are resources that can help with that, but you should do everything in your power to be sure you go out and fill out a ballot, and that you help make history on Tuesday, and that you help this country and the rest of the world avoid what is shaping up to look like a pretty big global crisis.

Amy Plum, author of the DIE FOR ME series, the AFTER THE END series, and the forthcoming DREAMFALL (listen to her First Draft interview here)

Hi, this is Amy Plum coming to you from Paris, France, where I just voted by absentee ballot. The first time I wanted to vote was in 1984, but I was only 17 years old, so it was very frustrating to have to sit aside and watch while somebody was voted in who I didn’t really want to be — that was Ronald Reagan — and not be able to do anything about it. That’s why the next time, in 1988, I rushed right out and placed my vote. Even though I didn’t feel very strongly about the candidate. It was Michael Dukakis, and he was running against George Bush — George Bush Sr., that is — who did win, but at least I felt the power of being able to do something about it that time. That’s why, even though I live an ocean away, I was so proud and happy to have been able to place my vote by absentee ballot for the first woman president of the United States. Get out and place your vote. It’s not only your right, it’s your privilege. So take the power over your own future, and vote.

Marie Lu, author of the LEGEND series, the YOUNG ELITES trilogy (listen to her First Draft interview here)

I think this upcoming election is one of the most important elections we may experience in our lifetime, certainly in mine. Day and June, the stars of LEGEND, and Adelina, who stars in the YOUNG ELITES, would absolutely want you to vote. They would beg you to go vote. They have experienced oppression first-hand, and they live in dystopian and fantasy worlds and they would like for us to not be in one as well. So please, if you can, go to the polls, get out the vote. This is such an important right that we have. We are almost there, you guys!

Maurene Goo, author of SINCE YOU ASKED and the forthcoming I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE(listen to her First Draft interview here)

I want to urge you to vote, because it is literally the only way to participate in this grand experiment called democracy. People died to be able to vote, to not suffer under tyranny. That may sound dramatic, but this election has shown you can never underestimate the power of one person. So let that powerful person be you. Vote, and get everyone else you know to vote too. Then let’s all celebrate the first female president, together.

Claire Legrand, author of THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, SOME KIND OF HAPPINESS, and FOXHEART, and more (listen to her First Draft interview here)

I want to tell you about the first time I voted. It was 2004. I was freshly 18, and I voted for George W. Bush. Even saying that fills me with shame, regret, embarrassment, and not just because now I am a liberal, progressive person, but because I voted thoughtlessly. I voted for Bush, and I think if I remember correctly, I voted for Republicans all the way down the ballot, simply because everyone around me was doing it, too. I grew up in Texas and my family and friends were fairly conservative, and it was just this unspoken thing. Or in some cases, a very loudly spoken thing: “Of course you’re voting for Bush!” So I did, too. I put about as much thought into my vote as I put into what I’m going to eat for breakfast. I voted carelessly. I voted selfishly.

Here’s the thing I realize now that I didn’t realize then — why it’s so important to vote: My vote isn’t just about me. It’s about everyone. My vote isn’t just about me. it’s about what will benefit the greatest number of people possible. My vote isn’t just about me. It’s about standing up for people who enjoy less privilege than I do, and saying with my vote that they are just as important and deserving of respect and safety and protection as I am. When you go vote, if you haven’t already, take a moment and think about that. Your vote is not about making a statement protesting our current two-party system, or protesting because your candidate didn’t get the nomination. Your vote is not about protecting the privileged. At least, it shouldn’t be. Your vote is about everyone, especially about those whose voices are so often ignored, dismissed, or silenced. So, go out and vote. Not just for yourself, but for everyone.

And, p.s., I’m with her — if you hadn’t guessed.

Amy Lukavics, author of DAUGHTERS UNTO DEVILSTHE WOMEN IN THE WALLS, and the forthcoming THE RAVENOUS (listen to her First Draft interview here)

A fact that I find to be a little wild is how 40 percent of Americans don’t actually exercise their right to vote. That is pretty bad, considering how important the total number of voters is to the accuracy and success of our democracy. Like, 40 percent is so many! I promise you, your vote does matter, it is counted, it is relevant, it will be heard. But only if you make it. So please go out and vote! Let the voice of our generation represented by you and the rest of us, for the better of everyone’s future.

Lance Rubin, author of DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE and DENTON LITTLE’S STILL NOT DEAD (listen to his First Draft interview here)

Hopefully this is obvious to you, and I’m preaching to the choir, but you have to vote. You have to vote. it is a special power we all get once we turn 18 in this country, and it is how we contribute to what happens in our own future. You know, I was at the coffee shop last week — I said the coffee shop like, you all know the coffee shop —  I was at a coffee shop last week, and there was a woman in her early twenties sitting near me and she said to her boyfriend, “I’m not gonna vote. I just don’t want to get involved, you know?” And it was very shocking to hear. I’d heard, I guess, that that was kind of a viewpoint of the younger generation, but to hear it with my own ears… was pretty astounding. And look, maybe it’s a very legitimate position to have, maybe there are reasons why you just want to throw up your hands and walk away from all of it, but I am telling you, that is ridiculous. This is the most important election of our lifetime. I know it’s the most important one so far. It probably will be for the rest o four lifetimes. Because this is some crazy stuff going on, and if you’re a human being who cares about other human beings, I think it’s obvious that we have to use our vote to stop He Who Must Not Be Named at all costs. Which of course means voting for Hillary Clinton. I don’t want to get all biased on here, that’s not the point — the point is to tell you to get out to vote — but the reason you need to get out to vote is that we need to stop this guy. And not only that, but Hillary is a fantastic candidate, so qualified. Whatever gripes you have with her, if you do, I understand. She’s a flawed human being, as we all are, but she’s damn smart, damn good at her job, damn experienced, and she is the only one who can lead our country forward.

We’ve all experienced this election for the last year and a half. It’s been horrible to witness the hatred Trump has stirred up anew. We are not a country that hates. We are a country that loves. Let your vote be a sign of your love pushing us forward, joining us together, instead of just contributing to the horror by not voting. We are all involved. You are involved, I am involved. And if we let that orange person become president and things spiral down, down, down, I promise you we will all have been involved. Get out there and vote.

Samantha Mabry, author of A FIERCE AND SUBTLE POISON and the forthcoming THE REAL MARVELOUS (listen to her First Draft interview here)

Whenever I vote, I get this flutter of excitement in my stomach, and I think that’s because on one hand, voting can be this really wonderful act of being a part of your community. And an act of love and that you are trying to help your nation and its citizenry move forward in a positive direction. But on the other hand, it can feel like this really wonderful act of rebellion. It can be really empowering and emboldening to make a decision on your own, in this little booth, without outside forces influencing you. There’s really a lot to be said for that in a world where we feel bombarded and we say, ‘Of course,’ when we don’t really mean it, and we say, ‘Yes,’ when we really mean no. But when we’re in the voting booth, we get to be really honest with ourselves, and that’s a really great feeling.

Natalie C. Parker, author of the BEWARE THE WILD series and editor of the forthcoming anthology TRIANGLES: THE POINTS OF LOVE ANTHOLOGY

My story about voting is a short one, and I think it’s mostly about stickers. The first time I was old enough to vote in a presidential election I was studying abroad in England and had to submit my ballot very early, which meant I didn’t get a sticker. Or at least I don’t remember getting one. The second time I was old enough to vote I was a graduate student and I was living in Ohio, so I had to change my state residency in order to vote. Only this was the year that Ohio lost, or misplaced, all of these voter registration cards, so when I showed up at the polling station, I was told that I had to submit a provisional ballot, and basically that my vote wouldn’t count for a very long time. So I got my sticker, but it felt like an empty sticker. Like a meaningless sticker. Like an I-hadn’t-actually-voted sticker. So the third time I was old enough to vote in a presidential election I was back home, in Kansas, showed up to the polling station and I got my sticker, and it felt like a major accomplishments. Like a three-voting-cycles-in-the-making accomplishment. But ever since then I’ve realized that stickers are nice, but it’s not the reason to get there. So I’m here to encourage you all to vote, whether or not you get that sticker to prove that you did. Get out there and vote.

Elissa Sussman, author of STRAY and BURN (listen to her First Draft interview here)

During the last election I headed to Nevada, aboard what we dubbed the ‘Obama bus’ to knock on people’s doors and remind them to vote. It was only for a weekend, but on our last day there the organizers told us that because of our efforts, Nevada was now leaning blue. It was an amazing feeling, knowing that we had done something to help our candidate. And you can do the same by voting. Your vote counts. Your vote matters.

Kirsten Hubbard, author of RACE THE NIGHT (out today!), WATCH THE SKYWANDERLOVE and LIKE MANDARIN (listen to her First Draft interview imminently!)

It’s a big day – but for much bigger reasons. More than every before, this election is about choosing love versus hate. Empathy versus bigotry. Continuing to move forward into a better, more beautiful, more colorful future – versus sliding backward and backward and actually losing so many hard-fought rights – and more. Today’s vote is not only about us, but also about the Americans before us. It’s about where we were versus where we are – and where we go next. Because if you ask me, America is pretty damned great already. And that greatness is its forward-thinking, and diversity, and compassion, and freedom to live our best lives and love who we love.

So please, cast your vote with love, and empathy – and also pride. For the America we are – and the even better America she will help us become.

Sarah Enni

My first voting experience was in 2004. I was voting for John Kerry, and I knocked on doors, I made calls, I volunteered, and I spent that whole day hearing that we were ahead, hearing positive things. This was pre-Twitter, so it was just kind of walking around hoping. And i remember feeling so devastated that night that my candidate didn’t win. That everything I believed and thought that most people believed wasn’t really true. But it really woke me up to how diverse this country is and how many different experiences come together under one leadership system. And I needed to respect their will and I needed to work harder if I wanted my voice to be heard. I’ve tried to do that every year since, including this year.

This is a pretty wild election. It’s been disheartening to realize now, after paying attention to an election for a year and a half, that we’ve hardly talked at all about anything that truly matters. Policy has not exactly been on the forefront. I’m eager to get past it. I hope the U.S. can get past this. I hope that everyone makes the decision to vote for Hillary Clinton — I’m just gonna be honest — because the alternative is frightening and it’s beneath the United States. I’m really hopeful that we can move forward and have great discussions on the genuine different points of interest that should be represented in our politics. This is getting really specific and honest.

I mean, really, I just want people to vote. I want people to live in this country and care. The enemy is apathy. And apathy doesn’t serve you or anyone. If you live in this country, if you’re a citizen of the U.S. and you can vote, it’s up to you to speak out for yourself and for your friends and for your family, and to fight for representatives who are going to do their best by you. That’s how anything happens, how major change happens. It starts in the ballot booth, it starts today. It starts when you get that great little sticker.