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Why I Will Always Vote — & Why You Should, Too

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Photo: John Lamparski/Getty Images.
Drew Barrymore is an actress, writer, and producer. The views expressed here are her own.

I was once a person who did not understand why voting is important. I knew it was crucial intellectually, but it wasn't personally important to me. That's why 13 years ago, I decided to make it personal by making a documentary about it. The film was my way of forcing myself down the rabbit hole. What I discovered left me inspired, confused, and overwhelmed. Eventually, the voting process earned my appreciation and I came to understand that it is a must. Period.

I traveled around America for about a year in a van with just a tiny crew and myself. I went all over the country and experienced different revelations in different destinations. The people who were kind enough to speak to me along the way ranged from politicians to comedians, high school kids to people on the street.

We are all just trying to figure it out along the way, and the less we judge or patronize, the better off we will be.

I learned about the fundamentals of voting for everything from student-body president to local city council. I learned why it's crucial to make your voice heard, from voting on local measures all the way up to who we put in the White House. Every vote has an effect, and every vote matters.

But the most important thing I learned in my yearlong journey was why voting is important for me. I will never, ever, ever, ever not vote again. Growing up, I wasn't raised in a family that influenced me in this way. We didn't speak about voting around the dinner table. But because of my documentary and my foray into a topic that can be loaded but ultimately very empowering, I will now be the kind of parent who talks about it around the dinner table with my two daughters.
Back in 2003, I didn't want to be partisan. And with today's climate, I don't want to be partisan now, either. I'm sure you can guess which candidate I gravitate toward. But I am not here to tell you who to vote for. I am here to tell you that I would be so grateful if you took 40 minutes out of your day to watch my little student film. I have never been a person who says: "Learn from me." I have always been the kind of person who says: "Learn with me."

We are all just trying to figure it out along the way, and the less we judge or patronise, the better off we will be. My documentary is about self-discovery, but, of course, those revelations come from learning about what other people have fought for.

If it inspires even one person like it inspired me, then I will be so happy that I released it again ahead of this crucial election. Most importantly, I hope it inspires you to get out and vote on November 8.

Watch the full film The Best Place to Start below.
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