Many of us, you included, have at some point wondered what the importance of casting a ballot really is. Does a single vote matter? Can it make a difference? Is it worth the time?
We’ve all heard the stories about how one candidate won an election by a single vote — which means the other candidate lost by that one vote.
But here’s the bottom line: With a government elected by its citizens, one that effects every aspect of our lives from schools to health care to homeland security, voting is an important right in our society. By voting, you are making your voice heard and registering your opinion on how you think the government should operate.
Historically, however …
The United States may be the world’s oldest continuous democracy, but experience does not equal enthusiasm.
In its most recent national election, the U.S. had the ninth-lowest voting rate among the 35 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The 2008 presidential elections boasted the highest U.S. turnout since the 1968 elections ― and more than 4 in 10 Americans aged 18 or older still stayed home.
This isn’t altogether surprising. In addition to general apathy, the influence of money in politics, the Electoral College and gerrymandered congressional districts makes plenty of citizens feel as if their vote just doesn’t matter.
Voting rates are even more abysmal during midterm elections when the presidency is not at stake — such as is the case next week. During the 2014 midterms, less than half of eligible voters in 43 states even bothered.
But voting is very important to your future. Hopefully learning some of the history, reasons, and ways you can get involved with voting will help you describe to others why it is so important — you can take a look at the 14th Amendment and 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Knowledge is power and if you don’t learn how to use your civic “voice” when it comes to making decisions, you will never be heard.
Still need convincing? Consider:
— Does it seem as if politicians don’t “get” you? Want politicians in office who represent your needs and concerns? Then vote.
— You cancel out someone else’s vote. Whether it’s your neighbor, your teacher, or somebody famous, you probably know someone who is going to vote the opposite of you.
— Some adults think, “Young people are lazy, they don’t care about their communities, they don’t vote.” Prove them wrong.
— It’s your money. The county commissioners, governor, state treasurer, legislators, president and members of Congress you vote for will decide how to spend your money. Vote for those that agree with your point of view.
So, even if you’re a Democrat in bright red Texas, a Republican in deep blue Vermont, or a rural resident of independent-rich Bladen County, a higher turnout makes our democracy more representative. Please cast a ballot on Tuesday — and be sure those votes are your choices, not someone else’s.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” (Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th president of the United States)