Q&A | Daisy Bonilla
NWA Girl Gang Team Member and Blog Director Erika sits down with Daisy Bonilla to discuss all the information you need to know to get registered to vote on November 3rd. GET ACTIVE and GET VOTING this 2020 Election year! Your voice counts.
NWA GirlGang: Where can people get educated about the issues & candidates this election year for local and national elections?
Daisy: You can check your registration at www.voterview.org. You can make sure you’re ready to vote, and it will tell you what districts you live in. As we get closer to the election, there will be a sample ballot to check out and make sure you’re ready to head to the polls.
Once you know who you can vote for, I would check out the candidate’s website and social media.
The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette will also be running interviews over the next few weekends on state candidates about big issues like COVID-19 and what our priorities would be as lawmakers.
In addition to candidates, there will also be ballot issues, and the University of Arkansas extension office always puts out a great non-partisan guide for Arkansas ballot issues. We try to keep it local and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families will also cover the issues in a non-partisan way.
NWA GirlGang: How can our audience be sure they are registered to vote?
Daisy: I love this question because this is so incredibly complicated and it shouldn’t be. If you go to www.voterview.org you can check your registration. You can find out information about how to register to vote if you haven't ever voted and how to update your registration. If you've moved, be sure to update your address with the county clerk. You may have to send in a new registration form if you’ve moved counties. I would say to play it safe, update a whole new form whether you have moved within the same county or a different one, and watch for an updated voter card in the mail. But www.voterview.org is a great resource to see what is on file for you now.
NWA GirlGang: For someone reading who feels the pull to get involved in politics but isn’t sure they should run for office— Talk about why representation matters in local and even national elections. Why is it important to take up space?
Daisy: Representation matters because we talk a lot about diversity, equity, and inclusion but I feel like we need to move beyond symbolic conversations. We need people at the table making the decisions that influence our entire community. We have seen for example with COVID-19 how much it’s disproportionately affected our Marshallese & Latinx communities here in Arkansas but we have no Marshallese and only a few Latinx lawmakers. Our representatives are supposed to listen to and speak on behalf of our communities. How can that happen if that representation does not have a seat at the table? One thing I have personally learned through my experiences is that you do not need permission to run for office. If you feel a pull to run and get involved, then do it! We need diverse voices that reflect our community in the capitol, in the county, in school boards, in city council. If you want to get involved, we need your voice and lived experience - don't let anything hold you back.
NWA GirlGang: This year has been really overwhelming for so many people. Why is it important to not be cynical or feed into that urge to be cynical this election year?
Daisy: We can't afford to be cynical. Local elections matter as much as national ones do, but the power is within us. We have all the power here to send people who truly represent us here in NWA to Little Rock. Right now we are seeing communities that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and our state representatives are responsible for making sure we get the funding we need to help our communities. Some of these races, if you look back, were won by just 30 votes. So I really want to stress that every single vote matters and your voice matters, even outside of this election. Some lawmakers tried to delay the extra COVID-19 support, but our community pushed back. We got loud and lawmakers had to listen. I understand being jaded by politics, but every part of our lives is affected by politics. So it's important that we stay involved and that we are the ones driving the decisions about our communities. Lawmakers work for us, we need to not forget that.
NWA GirlGang: What are the options to vote in Arkansas? Should I trust the mail or just show up in person on Election Day?
Daisy: In Arkansas there are 3 ways to vote: absentee, in person early vote, and in person on election day. I strongly feel that individuals that can vote in person, vote early. I personally will be voting early and I am hearing from our election officials that voting sites will be taking precautions to do their best to keep voters safe. I will be taking my personal precautions and I will be wearing my mask when going to the polls. Early voting starts October 19th, and you can vote at any early voting site in your county. For those of us that are immunocompromised, if you are unable to vote in person and must vote absentee, you need to apply for your ballot now.....yesterday. We know the election officials are working around the clock to manage all the applications and that there will likely be delays in mail delivery, so if you do vote absentee, be sure to follow the directions exactly as they are listed and call your county clerk afterwards to make sure it's gotten there or if you have questions. For example, check your voter registration - your signature on your ballot needs to match your legal name exactly.
NWA GirlGang: Exactly?
Daisy: Yes, your legal name! They are very picky and it also has to be in black pen.
NWA GirlGang: How can those who might not be of age to vote, still participate in the election-- whether it be poll workers or getting the word out in their local community-- what are some other things people can do to get involved this election?
Daisy: Fantastic question. I think the biggest thing, is volunteering for a campaign. Find a candidate that speaks to your values, volunteer, donate your time and your skills. Elections, we all know that they matter, but they are people driven. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how politically inclined you are or aren't. For those people that can’t vote-- you can still make a difference in a variety of ways. You can make phone calls, you can share on social media, you can educate your parents and they can donate. I admire our youth because I feel like they are becoming more politically involved than maybe we were at that age. I admire that our youth are taking an interest in what's taking place in our country and being active participants in their government and teaching their parents and families. I'm a social worker and therapist and I love working with youth, there's nothing they can't do. My passion is working with teenagers, I love working with ages 11 to 12 all the way through 18.
NWA GirlGang: Why is that, I'm curious?
Daisy: I think, and this is part of why some people don't like to work with them, it’s because they think they are invincible and they think they know everything. I love that though because I feel like we should always teach our children to dream big. We should teach them that nothing is impossible for them and that they can achieve whatever they want. This is the age where they believe that and if given the opportunity, if you can help influence and shape their minds so that they can feel empowered and bold to do whatever they want in life-- they will. And that’s my favorite thing to help empower teens to do.
NWA GirlGang: What are some tips you have for having conversations about voting or policies on the ballot with friends and family? How can you keep those conversations friendly?
Daisy: I tell people to remember that at the end of the day, they are still your friends and family. You love and you respect them and you still have to love and respect them even if you don't agree with them. We need to have conversations about why it’s important that people vote and why it's so crucial for all of us to show up on election day. We aren't only voting for our values, even if they are different, we also have to vote for people that don't have a vote and have no way of making their voice heard. That’s on us, we need to speak up for them too. Voting is definitely a privilege and we need to use it to help others, that’s what I believe. Like so many others, I'm tired of what politics has turned into. Our representatives should be listening to and working for us. We are in this moment where we have the opportunity to literally be the change we want to see, but we do that by voting and making our voices heard. Every single vote matters, especially in local elections. A primary in Little Rock a few months ago was won by one single vote, one. That's crazy. We need to make sure we help our family and friends find ways to get involved in politics and show them how strong their voice truly is.
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ABOUT| DAISY BONILLA
Daisy Bonilla is a social worker and mental health professional who has called Bentonville home for the last thirteen years.Throughout her time in Bentonville she has dedicated herself to fighting barriers and helping others achieve their American dream.