Now that the Republican and Democratic conventions are upon us and nominations are finalized, conversations surrounding voter turnout will be discussed by media outlets from now until November.
I recently saw an article analyzing voter turnout statistics during this year’s primary elections. While the numbers indicated a rebound in voter turnout, they still fell short of the records set in 2008.
Over the years I have heard Americans provide a number of reasons as to why they choose not to vote. Some say their vote does not provide value. Others express dissatisfaction with candidates. Not only do I disagree with these claims, but I firmly believe that not only is the right to vote a privilege, but it is also a responsibility.
Voting is a Right Americans Had To Fight For
It was not that long ago that entire populations were denied the right to vote. It was not until 1919 that women were granted suffrage. To put that in perspective, there are millennials today who have grandmothers who lived during a time where their gender prohibited them from casting a ballot. African Americans, Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans have all had to overcome a number of obstacles in their pursuit to vote, yet today it seems as if their fight has largely become forgotten.
Voting Does Not Only Determine the Next President
President Abraham Lincoln said, “It is not the qualified voters, but the qualified voters who choose to vote, that constitute political power.” In other words, the power in voting does not come from simply being eligible to vote. Instead it comes from taking action at the polling stations.
Voters need to remember you vote for more than just the president. What the president accomplishes largely depends on the party in control both in the Senate and the House. There are also state and local officeholders that directly impact the community in which you live. Lastly, referenda on the ballot is a community matter and those living in that community need their voices to be heard.
Certain elections will also have real impact on the Supreme Court, much like the election will this year. The bench, even more so than the presidency, will affect American lives forever. When evaluating candidates, it also important to keep in mind that who you vote for will be selecting the next Supreme Court justices.
Voting Gives You A Voice
“We in America do not have government by the majority,” President Thomas Jefferson said. “We have government by the majority who participate.”
If voters are failing to show up at their primaries, caucuses, and general elections, the concerns of a select few will dictate the policies and candidates for the majority. Voting essentially allows American to back issues they care about and support representatives that will make changes you want to see.
And just when you might think one vote does not matter, it is important to keep in mind that the margin of victory can be important. There may be a candidate you do not support wins with little contest, but voting will still limit the “mandate” claimed once in office. In order to get re-elected, these candidates may stand behind more moderate policies.
This November, I hope all Americans take the time to make sure their voice is heard and their concerns are expressed.