The Voting Experience
Council member Bond shares stories of his voting experience
Voting plays an invaluable role in our American political system. Whether it’s a vote for president or local boards and commissions, casting a ballot shapes the futures of cities, states, and the country.
With the 2020 general election coming up, this series will offer a look at the voting experiences for members of the Atlanta City Council.
Next in our series is Post 1 At-Large Council member Michael Julian Bond, who recalls voting for the first time in the 1984 presidential election between incumbent Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale. It was a particularly historic race because of Mondale’s vice-presidential selection of Geraldine Ferraro, who became the first woman to be on a major party national ticket in the U.S.
“I was excited to vote,” Bond said. “I was excited to vote for something that had never happened before. There had never been a woman vice presidential nominee before. I got to participate in that, so I have my own piece of history because of the vote that I cast.”
The importance of voting was reinforced to Bond by his parents. The son of political and civil rights activists, his father, Julian Bond, served in the Georgia House and the Georgia Senate and as chair of the NAACP.
“Voting was always important in my home,” Bond said. “At the youngest age that was legally permissible, I became a deputy registrar here in Fulton County and began registering people to vote prior to my being able to cast a ballot.”
Looking back on his first-time voting, he recalled have a strong feeling of maturity.
“To finally, actually be able to vote after working on campaigns and working around election days since I was five years old, it felt like I had crossed a threshold that I was truly an adult then and I felt more a part of the community than I had ever felt before.”
In terms of the importance of voting, Bond noted that it’s a particularly powerful step that serves as an investment in the future and helps to connect neighborhoods.
“Voting is more than just voting for someone that you like versus someone that you don’t like. When you go to the polls and vote, you are physically representing your participation in society, in your community, and in your neighborhood through the act of voting,” he said. “By exercising our right to vote, we are exercising a privilege that most people around the world don’t enjoy as freely as we do.”
He added it’s particularly important that young people recognize the value voting can play in shaping communities.
“People have to remember that voting isn’t just a one-time event. Voting has to be viewed as a habit. This is something that you do all the time. It’s your participation in it — all of the time — that makes a difference,” Bond said. “When you’re showing up to vote, you’re showing up for yourself, for your community, and for where you’re coming from. You might elect a person and because you’ve voted, you have more of a right to hold that person accountable than somebody who didn’t vote at all. So, you want to be in the mix, you want your community to change, you want your community to improve, go out and vote.”