With Election Day just around the corner, and many of us still not too sure about either candidate, has the thought of just simply not voting crossed your mind? Or moving to a foreign country? Before you finalize your passport or decide to skip your time in the voting booth, consider these reasons why voting is one of the most important privileges as an American and why YOUR voice matters so much in this election:
- We live in a democracy. We are a nation where collectively, our individual votes decide who goes in office, from President to Congress, to the House of Representatives, to local officials like Governor, Mayor, even city councilmen and women. We get to participate in bringing laws to fruition, such as allocating more funding for education, increasing punishment and penalty for various crimes or offenses, approving work on roads, in healthcare, and so on.
- Voter turnout rates. While we live in the longest-surviving continuous democracy, our excitement level doesn’t correlate as such. In the last election, over 40% of voters stayed home and didn’t even vote on election day! Almost half of America stayed home and let others speak up and didn’t allow their own voices to be heard. In what other situation would this be OK to let someone else decide something this important for you? We each have unique opportunity to let our opinions be heard and to not cast your opinions forfeits your rights. Higher turnout rates allows votes to be more representative of what the American people truly want.
- Margin of victory is important. Even if your candidate (or opposing candidate) wins in a landslide, if you vote for or against them, it can proportionately affect their margin if enough people vote for or against them. They will be frequently reminded of their margin and where they need to work to keep American people happy to increase their potential to gain their votes if re-elected. Remember before 9/11 and the conspiracy of the Hanging Chad in the 2000 election between George Bush and Al Gore? Do you think anyone let him forget he won by a hair? Margin is important, whether your candidate barely scrapes by for a victory, or wins by a landslide.
- It is our right as Americans. Keep in mind that voting is something many of us take for granted, but worldwide, many are still fighting for that right. Americans fought and countless thousands lost their lives fighting for the freedom we now have to vote in democratic elections. Even a century ago, women were far from having the civil liberties that they have now. If for nothing else, vote for the fact that it’s an American right that was fought for over centuries.
- Young and non-white voters make up the largest group of voters in 2016. Younger voters, millennials in particular, are more apt to support things like same-sex marriage, legalizing abortion and other progressive/liberal issues. If you disagree with these issues, your voice is important in voting against them. Further, 40% of millennials are non-white, which makes them the most culturally diverse voting population in U.S. history. It is incredibly important to educate and give access to voting for this population, as voter turn-out can be less than 50% in multi-racial, non-white communities.
If you are registered to vote, find your voting location, get educated on who can you vote for in this election, and any pertinent issues, and get out to vote! You can even vote early or vote by mail if you have a legitimate reason to not get to your voter location on Election Day or during early voting. The point is, get out and vote- make sure your voice is heard and your freedom as an American is exercised!
Here are some resources to check out for more information:
https://triggerthevote.org/find-polling-place/ (Find your polling place)
http://www.vote411.org/ (Online voters’ guide to find issues and candidates based on your address)
(Sources: http://peopleof.oureverydaylife.com/what-importance-voting-america-8444.html, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/reasons-to-vote-in-elections_us_56c776e2e4b041136f16e9ad, http://borgenproject.org/voting-is-important/ )