Sunday, December 31, 2017

Our 5 Top Articles of 2017

It’s the New Year!
And what better way to look forward than to take a look back? 

Once again I will honor my yearly tradition and share with you our top blog articles from this past year. They are our top 5 in reader views, response, and engagement.  

Each of these pieces either dealt with some aspect of the hiring process or starting your own business. They shared tips on how to overcome any potential obstacles and how to turn them around and make them work to your advantage instead.

First up is “Hiring? What You should Do Now to Attract the New Hires You Need!”. 

In this article I shared why your hiring process is so important and how you can make it work FOR you instead of against you!

How you hire can say a lot about You and Your Company. That is why it is so important that you are aware of what yours is saying about you! Does your Hiring Process mesh with your brand and company values? Does it show your commitment to your employees, not just your bottom line?
Simply put ~ 
Are you doing enough during the hiring process to grab the attention of your best new hires?”.

Discover more about how to revamp your hiring process here!

In “Is Your Online Degree Valid?”, I explained the pros and cons of pursuing a degree online. 

While it certainly is much easier for many to take classes while at home or on the go instead of sitting in a traditional classroom, job seekers and employers need to be careful before committing to and paying for any online program. The biggest key to making it work for you is “do your homework” first!

The truth is, not all online degrees are created equal. Just as there are good and bad when it comes to traditional colleges and universities, the same can be said of those that are online. That is why before you commit to any online school, it pays to Do Your Homework!"

Your best tactic in making sure the institution you choose is legitimate and will meet your needs is to ask yourself these 3 questions first: 

  1. Is it an Accredited Institution?
  2. Will your Degree be Easy to Verify?
  3. Does the program fit your Career Goals?

Find out more about why the answers to these questions is critical to both job seeker and employers here!

Our next article tackled why and how to best outsource your employment background checks. 

More and more companies are outsourcing their employment screenings to background check providers. A good screening company is an invaluable asset to your hiring program. However, it is important that you pick the right one for you!

In “How to Pick the Right Background Check Company”, I clear up some common and confusing questions concerning why you should screen your hires and tips to help you choose your background check provider.

A good Background Check Provider should:

  • Focus on Your Needs
  • Use Direct, Reliable Sources for their Information
  • Take the Time to Do It Right
  • Stay Informed on Hiring Laws and Regulations
  • Not Put Cost over Quality

You can learn more about what you need to know before choosing the right employment screening company for you here!

Why You Need to Contact Us Before You Hire!” was our most popular article of 2017! 

In it I shared what makes our company, Access Profiles, different from other screening companies and how we can help you hire safely and effectively in your own business.

At API, our passion is helping businesses…and our clients know it! Take a look at what they have to say hereWe believe in what we do and we care about you and your business. Our biggest goal is to help you succeed ~ it is what drives us and it is behind everything we do and why we do it! That is what helps set us apart”.

This dedication and focus seemed to resonate with you and I appreciate that!

I invite you to discover more about what we do and why here!

The last of our 5 most popular articles, “You will Learn a lot about You when You Start Your Own Business”, took a look at what I learned from my own journey into entrepreneurship ~ and what you can learn from your own!

All entrepreneurs have a story. While many are similar ~ we wanted to be our own boss or needed more flexibility ~ there are also others who are more unique. But no matter what, every story is interesting.”!

Not only can these stories encourage others thinking of starting their own businesses, but they can make you more approachable and interesting to perspective clients!

You can learn more about me and my journey here!  

These 5 articles where revisited often throughout the year and continue to be favorites among our readers. For that, and for so much more, we thank you! 

We also hope to continue providing you with more business tips and information in the coming year! And, if you are not already, please Subscribe Now! You will get one new article each week focused on You and Your Business. Thanks!

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Happy Holidays!

To close out 2017.....
There will be no new article this week as we take this time to celebrate with our family and friends, and we hope you are doing the same!

We will be back in the new year with fresh articles filled with tips and news to help You and Your Business.  
See You in 2018!!

Kim & Dave Kline
Access Profiles, Inc.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Ready to Take Your Holiday Break?

Are You Ready for Your Holiday Break?

Another holiday season is upon us and once I again I find myself ready to shift my focus away from my business and place it squarely on my family and friends!

The prep is done and I am ready to soak in the wonders of the season...are you?

The Holidays can frazzle the best of us!
We find ourselves pulled in a million different directions. We have to make time for family, work, and friends. Not to mention the extra “holiday specific” tasks this season brings ~ decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping ~ and the list goes on!

The hectic pace definitely can take its toll!

And while I love everything that is “holiday”, I know it is not in my or my family’s best interest to let it wear me down.

That is why I am a firm believer in taking a Holiday break!

Time off allows me to thoroughly enjoy my favorite time of the year and get some much desired “me time”. To accomplish this I gradually lessen my workload and go into “wind down” mode for the rest of the year.

I recommend that, if possible, you all do the same!

The question then becomes….How?

It is possible to take the holiday break you need ~ and these tips will get you started!

All it takes is some serious pre-planning! Working overtime to complete outstanding projects, notifying clients in advance you will be taking time off, and even pre-paying any bills and invoicing for completed work will help.

While all that extra work certainly adds to the controlled chaos of my pre-holiday schedule, it is worth it!

As an added bonus, by the time my holiday break is over, I find myself more than ready to dive head first into the coming year”, excerpt from  “Need a Holiday Break? Why We All Require Time Off!”.

Learn more about what you can do to get away “work free” and “unplugged” in my article “8 Easy Tips to Help You Take a Vacation”.

The reality, however, is that not everyone can take their break during the holidays.

For some companies, this is their busy time of the year. They rely on holiday sales for much of their revenue and simply can’t scale back. 

I suggest these companies schedule a break after the season ends instead!

No doubt these business owners, and their employees, will be more than ready after the whirlwind holiday season. Some businesses may be able to coordinate company-wide time off. Others may need to employ a rotating schedule to allow everyone to take a break.

But no matter when or how, taking that break is important. It will re-energize and refresh you and, after it’s over, you will find yourself ready to get back in there give it your all!

To jump start my own holiday break, this will be the last article I share this year! 

Look for our next post to come out in the beginning of January! I hope to once again share with you new information and tips to help you and your business succeed.

We wish for each of you the time to truly enjoy whatever celebrations this season will bring! Happy Holidays!

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Need Help Starting Your Small Business? Contact Us!

Many people dream of becoming their own boss. 

They imagine the flexibility of setting their own hours. The freedom of taking their business in any direction they choose. And many, wish for the chance to do something that is meaningful and "speaks" to what is important to them. No doubt each of these goals sounds wonderful!

But oftentimes it is hard to know where to start.

Or, even if you do manage to get your business off the ground, obstacles can often get in the way that derail you from your goals.

This is where We can Help!
At Access Profiles, we offer Small Business Mentoring!

Our mentoring service was created out of what we saw as a real need. Many times our small business clients, and many of  the people we ran across, had a dream of succeeding as small business owners.

The trouble was, they didn’t know how to make their dream become a reality! 

For the past year or two, I have had people contact us who are thinking of starting their own small business. Most have been interested in a background check company, but others have been all over the board.

And if you have read any of our articles in the past, then you know that we believe in Paying it Forward.  

I have spent numerous hours on the phone and through email fielding questions and offering support to these budding entrepreneurs.  

It was during one of these phone calls that an idea began to form. My contact asked if I would be interested in actually mentoring her in starting her own business ~ and she offered to pay me for my time!

She wanted to “pick my brain” on the things I had learned in the past 20+ years and give her real guidance in getting her company up and running. 

This started me thinking ~ maybe I can start helping others on a more formal basis too.

And our Small Business Mentoring Service was born!”, excerpt from “Are You Ready to Start Your Own Small Business?”.

Are You Ready to Start a Small Business of Your Own?
Whether you need help with one specific problem, or simply need real advice to help you get started, we are here!

At API we have developed a list of Mentoring Sessions designed to address the many issues faced when starting a business. These topics cover everything from Setting up Your business, Hiring and Outsourcing, Building Your Brand, and much more!

You can find a complete list of the mentoring sessions we offer at Access Profiles here!

We are also able to customize individual sessions, or an entire plan, just for you!

Do You already run Your own Business?
We can help you too! Our sessions can help you overcome those inevitable roadblocks and get you back on the path to success!

So, if you are ready to begin your journey into entrepreneurship, if you are on the fence, or even if you simply need help with your existing business,  Contact Us!

We are here to answer your questions and help you choose the best path for you! Let’s Get Started!

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Sunday, December 3, 2017

Learn Why You need to Do More than an Online Background Check

Online Background checks have their place!
Using them as a “jumping off” point to your employment background check can yield some valuable information. For example, you may discover places where your subject has lived and worked that were not mentioned on their application or resume.

But, for us, it stops there. Using the results of these “instant” checks exclusively to help you hire is not only unwise, it is bad business!

In fact, the majority of these online sites actually have a disclaimer that the results should not be used to determine employment.

So why would you take the risk? 
Instead, it is crucial that if you have opted for an online, “instant”, search on your applicant, then you need to follow-up with that all important Second Step ~ additional verification!

Additional verification is the key “to ensuring you get accurate and up-to-date information on the subject of your search. 

Checking any information found through a database search against real court records is crucial. It is truly the single best way to determine whether any criminal record found actually belongs to your subject.

It will also help you determine whether the record is complete. A good record should contain details of the charges, final disposition, and sentence. If no disposition is listed, then you will be able to determine if it is an active case where no disposition is yet recorded.

Databases may also not contain all the information you need. There are counties that either do not report their case information in a timely manner or not at all. That can result in major holes in your report”, excerpt from “Don’t be Fooled ~ Why You need to Know what is Missing from Your Online Search”!

Using inaccurate or incomplete information to make your employment decision is not only unfair to your applicant, it can hurt your company!
Relying solely on these online searches for your background check can have serious consequences for your business.

3 Top Dangers of Online Background Checks:
Inaccurate Information - Online checks can include information that doesn’t really belong to your applicant. Common names and a lack of identifiers included in the report (full name, date of birth, SSN) can cause problems when trying to conclusively match them to your applicant. Even the inclusion of legally expunged records is an issue. Many databases are not updated frequently enough to remove these types of records.

Missing Information - Many online checks are incomplete. They often contain no final disposition when it comes to criminal cases. And relying on arrests only when it comes to making a hiring decision is unwise. The case may have been dismissed or the person found not guilty. In addition, not all criminal cases are even included in these online databases. This may lead you to hire without all the facts.

Potential Lawsuits - Solely relying on online databases to make your hiring decisions can open you up to potential litigation. Any inaccurate or incomplete records used can be the basis of a future lawsuit from the rejected applicant or even the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)!

The best advice is to make no hiring decision before you Go to the Source!
Taking this extra step will ensure you get the best information possible from your employment background check to help you hire safely and effectively!

And API can Help! Contact Us for more information on our Background Investigation services and how they can help You and Your Business!

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Learn more About Us and our Security Consulting and Business Mentoring services too!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Do You Know Small Business?

Do you think you know all there is to know about Small Business?
You might want to think again!

Small businesses, just like their owners, are unique.

Many small business owners create their products or services to fill a void in what the “big boys” have to offer. They dedicate themselves to meeting the needs and desires of their clients and customers.

This results in a kaleidoscope of small businesses that offer a wide variety of goods and services that truly speak to their customers and their specific needs.

And while every small business is different, there are still things that hold true across the board.

Small Business Owners……
Learn a lot by running our businesses ~ the need to budget, to delegate and/or outsource, and to build strong relationships.

Believe in the Benefits of Doing Business with Small Business ~ great customer service, commitment to quality, pride in ownership, sense of community, and specialized goods and services.

Understand the Need to “Band Together” ~ we find power in numbers, join local networking groups, and share our knowledge and advice.

Recognize the Benefits of “Shopping Small” on our communities and the environment ~ shopping local keeps our money “in town” and helps our environment by cutting down on packaging and shipping.

Dedicate themselves to Hiring Safely to Protect their Businesses and Customers ~ small business owners understand that screening their employees is the best way to keep their workplace and customers safe, while protecting their company brand!

Learn more in "5 Truths about Small Business!".

Now for the big question…..Do You Support Small Business?

Supporting your local small businesses means supporting your neighbors and your community!
Visit your local coffee shop. Buy hardware from that family-owned shop down the street. Even quality business cards and stationary can be found within your community.

Increasingly you can even “shop small” outside your immediate neighborhood!

Most small businesses have websites and online shops where you can make purchases or check out their services. These sites help extend the reach of small businesses around the country and make it easier than ever before to support small business! 

You can even ask questions about the products or services they offer ~ and will most likely get a personal response directly from the owner or a trusted employee! That is the touch that many larger companies can’t replicate!

So, while we celebrate small businesses on Small Business Saturday, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn't “shop small” all year long!
After all, helping our small businesses succeed helps each of us too ~ and  our neighborhoods and communities will be stronger for it!

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Do You Know What You are Thankful For?

What are You Thankful for?

Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays always makes me reflective.

I think about how quickly the end of the year is approaching and I take stock on me, my family, and my business.

And while I always find some areas where I would like improvement (and more often than I care to admit they are mainly about me!), I am also aware of how truly thankful I am. My thanks extends well beyond what I physically have, and falls more squarely on the wonderful group of people in my life!

This past year has been rough.

My mom was diagnosed with cancer in the late spring and I was rocked. Suddenly everything else was put on the back burner and she became my primary focus.

Our days consisted of doctor’s appointments, treatments, and worry. It was a whirlwind.

I am happy to say that her prognosis is now good and she is solely in recovery mode!

But despite the stress, this experience has reinforced with me, and the rest of my family, what is truly important……that each and every day is a gift, not a certainty. And, most of all, how important it is to take time to appreciate the people around you.

For that, I am truly thankful!

And I know I am lucky to have so many different wonderful people in my life.

I am Thankful for ~

My Husband ~ we have been together for almost 37 years (most of my life!). He is my love, my friend, and my partner in everything. I couldn’t ask for more.

My Children ~ who have each found their own happiness and reasons to give thanks. They have been a continual sense of wonder to me for the kind of people they are now and for the adventures yet to come. 

My Family ~ who have been, and always will be, there for me as I am for them. You can choose your friends, but your family is your family. And I am lucky!

My Friends ~ They make me laugh, offer support, and are always there for a quick chat or an evening out. I am fortunate enough to have some of the best!

My Business Friends ~ They are my “go to” when I need a pep talk, some advice, or a sanity check. I am also grateful to the ones who practice “paying it forward” and recommend me to their other business friends. To them I say a big “Thank You”! 

My Clients ~ I appreciate their business and, most of all, their loyalty. I am grateful to have had some of them since I started my business and I don’t take that for granted! And I am also thankful for the new clients that have recently come my way. I hope to provide you with the quality of service and attention that will keep you coming back for years to come.

And, finally, I thank you, My Readers ~ Your interest and feedback have been invaluable. It has been hard during this past year to find the energy and time to get the writing in. But you have kept me going. For that I am continually grateful.

 To honor those that have done so much for me, I try to practice “paying it forward” myself whenever possible. I believe there is no greater gift than to give back. Helping others in even the smallest way can have a big impact. Try it and you will see what I mean.

While I am thankful for so much from so many, I can only hope that I give to all of you as much as you give to me!

So, during this season of thanks, I hope you can find, even in your darkest times, something to be truly grateful for.

That feeling is what keeps each of us going and gives us hope for the future. And, truly, nothing is more important than that!

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Learn Why You Need to Be careful when Posting on Social Media

Do You Own a Business?

If so, you know how important it is to build a positive and trust-worthy brand

You understand the need to develop and sustain an image that reflects your core values and helps you build a solid reputation to attract and keep customers.

You also know that in order to help you gain those loyal customers, you must Get Social!

Social Media is a fantastic way for businesses, especially small businesses, to build their brand and connect with existing and potential customers. It allows you to reach a wider audience and “spread the word” more often and much farther than more traditional marketing methods.

The key, however, it to be sure to use it to your best advantage. 

To do Social right, you need to Be Present, Be Consistent, and Be “Social”.
But most of all, you need to Be Careful.

Start by recognizing that what you share online is a strong reflection of you and your company. It should always be in-line with your brand and core values. That is why compromising your reputation by being cavalier about what you post is not good business.

That is why it is best to separate the Business from the Personal.

While this is relatively easy and clear on a site like LinkedIn, other sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are a little more murky.

To help achieve the separation you need, ask yourself these two questions: 

  1. Do I have a dedicated business page? 
  2. Do I use my personal page for business?

If you find yourself guilty of merging the two, then it is likely best 
you make some changes…and 
keeping them separate is the place to start!

The Top 3 reasons You should Separate Your Business and Personal Social Sites: 

  1. You don’t want to alienate potential clients
  2. You want to keep your “Brand” consistent
  3. You want to keep “crazy” things off your business pages

Alienating potential clients is never good for business. Anytime you share potentially controversial posts, you run this risk. That is why I avoid strong political and religious posts. You never know when what you say can keep you from landing a customer.  

Your “brand” should always be consistent. This is whether that brand is associated with your small business or it is your own professional persona. Anyone wanting to do business with or hire you, will look you up online. Posts or shares that go against the image you want to portray are detrimental and may even be dangerous to your success.

Keeping “crazy” posts from friends or online connections off my business pages is the number one reason I separate the business from the personal. You have very little control over what others post. And even if you hide them from your page, it may not be before their posts have been seen by someone they may offend. This could potentially lose you business or keep you from getting hired.

Learn more about why guarding both your business and personal online presence makes good business sense ~ and how you can accomplish it ~ in “Why You Need to Keep Your Personal & Business Social Media Separate”!

Social posts that share your personal causes and political views can all impact your business.

While separate pages is definitely recommended, I take it a step further. I am also extremely careful of what I like and post on my personal page.

That doesn’t mean I am impersonal and sterile. Even on my business page, I want people to know ME. After all, I am my company.

But my political and social views are my own! I won’t risk alienating or losing existing or potential clients over them. This is even more important in today’s political climate.

Instead, I have learned to use my social posts right, while still sharing what is important to me and my business.

I regularly weigh in on issues that effect business and background checks. Things like new laws and regulations are common post subjects. 

I also share my thoughts on discrimination in hiring and women in business ~ both topics that are extremely important to me and are core values in my business. 

But it ends there.

This way I can Be Present, Be Consistent, Be Social, and still Be Careful! 

So, in the end, be sure to ask yourself this question, 
Are Your Social Posts working for You or Against You?

Your answer can guide you in getting the best out of your social posts…and it is likely you will find that keeping them as separate as possible is simply Good Business!

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Are You Using Social Media to Hire?

Social Media is being used more than ever!

It is used within and by our government. Government agencies have their own Facebook pages. Our politicians use social media and dedicated pages to reach their constituents and run their campaigns. And even our president seems to tweet daily.

Businesses are not far behind.

They regularly use Social Media to build and maintain their company brand. Businesses also recognize how their social posts and advertisements can reach potential customers and earn them loyal ones.

Now these businesses are also going a step further and using social media to hire.

Social posts and tweets are being used to recruit candidates and announce open positions.

And now, these employers are also using it as a way to help screen their applicants.

They are doing Social Media checks! 

Social Media Checks are an addition to the more traditional type of employment background checks. For example, employers can use LinkedIn to help verify their applicant’s resume. They are even checking their candidate’s public social posts on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media Checks give some job seekers pause. 

Many worry that it is blurring the line between their personal and business life. Others see it as an invasion of privacy.

That is why it is important to clear up these issues and understand how employers are really using a Social Media check to hire. 
And that starts with understanding "What" employers are really looking for and "Why"!

There are definite reasons why doing a Social Media Check on potential hires makes sense.

First off, it is a great way to find relevant posts that contain professional information and can be used as a cross-check against a submitted resume. This can be a valuable tool to begin verifying a resume’s accuracy and a reflection on the applicant's honesty.

Secondly, viewing social posts can give an employer a better insight into their candidate. They can see posts that illustrate an applicant’s involvement in charities, causes, or even favorite hobbies. This can help an employer see the candidate as a more well-rounded, interesting person.

Essentially, a Social Media Check, along with other screening tools, helps an employer discover things that may either give them pause or leave them with a better opinion of their potential new hire.

While a Social Media Check can be a great tool to help companies make a good hiring decision, as with any screening tool, employers must learn to use them wisely.

Your best course of action is to wait until after the initial interview to conduct a Social Media Check. Make sure you obtain a signed release explaining that a background check, including a social media search, is the next step.  

You should treat the social media check the same way you do other aspects of your employment screening. Your candidate must be given a copy of their rights (their right to a copy of their report and the ability to mitigate or dispute the information found), just like when you run a court record check.

This includes documenting what social media sites were searched, when they were searched, what information was found, and what decision was made concerning employment. The report should then be kept in the candidate’s file”, excerpt from “Social Media Check ~ The Forgotten Screening Tool”! Check it out to learn more about the Why, When, and How of using social media in your hiring practices!

In addition to waiting until after a conditional offer of employment has been made and obtaining a signed release, it is crucial that employers NEVER ask an applicant for passwords to their social sites. This can get companies in hot water and open them up to potential litigation.

That is why businesses should consider using an experienced background investigation company to conduct their employment screenings.

A good screening company will know what you can legally use to make a hiring decision and make sure any protected information is not used. This is key.

At API, we can be that barrier! 

We will stand between you and the potentially sensitive information that may be found during all aspects of your employment background check, including the social media check.

Check out our Background Investigation Services page to find out more!

Bottom Line ~ Social Media is a great tool to help employers get to know their potential new hires. But it should only be part of their arsenal.

Using it as one aspect of a more comprehensive background check is the best way to go. This way you will get a more in-depth picture of what your applicant brings to the table.

And, more importantly, it will enable you to make a more informed and safer hiring decision ~ and that is good for you and your company.

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

We all Need to Vote if We want Change

Your Vote Matters!
Voting is important as a way to get our voices heard and weigh in on what matters to us and our society.

Our votes can effect change at the local level by helping elect township councils, court judges, and even school board members to work on our behalf to make our neighborhoods and schools better places.

Casting our votes for statewide and national offices can do the same on a much larger scale.   

No matter what the stage, when we vote we are showing we care about the issues. 
For some of us, those issues center on ourselves and our families. But, for many of us, our concern is deeper. It goes beyond the issues that effect us personally and expands to those that can help make a difference to our fellow man.

I believe that through our votes we can work towards creating a nation we want to live in. One that earns our loyalty and, most importantly, one where respect is based on merit.

But, to make it work, it is important that we first become Informed Voters!
Becoming truly informed is not always easy. Statements made by our politicians cannot often be taken at face value. Their behavior can take center stage and the important issues become clouded.

However, while it may be hard, being informed is not impossible!

We need to do some research.  Look at where the candidates stand on the issues, especially ones that are important to you. Find out their political beliefs or the way they have voted on or supported issues in the past. 

In other words, put in the work!”.

Ultimately, it is our job as voters to dig deep and discover, as much as possible, the truth.
Only then can we be sure we tried our best to do whatever it takes to understand the issues and how the candidates stand on each of them.

But all the prep work in the world means nothing if we don’t get out and vote! 

There are some who don’t vote by using the excuse “what’s the use”? They think that our politicians only have their own and their “friends” interests at heart.

Or they think that one vote simply doesn’t matter or won’t result in any kind of true change.

While this can certainly seem true, it is now more than ever that we need to take a stand ~ and the way to start is through our vote!

Vote those officials out of office that have proven they don’t speak for you and those they are sworn to represent. Make it clear that you will place your vote squarely for those that share your concerns.

Then you need to continue to follow these elected officials. If they prove false in how they promised to vote or what they said they would do, then contact them. Hear what they have to say and express your feelings.

And if they continue to disappoint, remember that in the next election!

Our votes speak for us! They send a clear message to our government representatives about how we think they are doing their jobs.

Our Vote = Our Voice
When we choose note to vote, we are tacitly accepting the way things are. It is through our vote that we enact change.

Our Silence = Our Acceptance
We are privileged in this country to have the freedom to vote. Since the age of 18, I have not missed an election ~ whether for our local representatives, the primaries, or for the President of the United States. And each time I vote, I still have a feeling of reverence for having the chance to exercise this right. 

My motto is, and will always be, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain!
So this election, and for every election to come, make sure your voice is heard and VOTE!

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