Does My Vote Really Count?
When asked why they didn’t vote in the 2016 election, many responded with “my vote doesn’t actually count”. This is a common misconception, and people thinking their vote does not count has resulted in historically low voter turn-outs.
The 2000 election between President Bush and Vice President Gore was won by 5 electoral votes. Yes, five! The state that caused the most controversy was Florida, in which the number of votes that ultimately determined the election was decided by 537 votes. Most of you have more Facebook friends than that! When numbers start getting in the millions it is hard to quantify, but when you realize that an election was won because of 537 votes it becomes a lot more clear how each vote can impact a result.
When people start thinking that their vote doesn’t matter or whoever they want is a clear win, the system breaks down, voices are not heard, and things just might go sideways. In the election of 1912, the Republican party ticket was split between Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Both failed to distinguish themselves from the other candidate, and it resulted in Woodrow Wilson winning the election. People were stunned because they assumed one of the two former presidents would win the election so many either didn’t vote or they didn’t think about the effects of what splitting the vote would do. Elections hardly ever go as planned, which is what makes is so important to cast your vote and let your voice be heard!
Most importantly, voting is your way to be heard. My dad used to say that if you don’t vote you don’t have a right to complain about your person not winning because you didn’t do anything to help them win. Good point, dad. Democracy only works if the people vote and let themselves be heard. In 2016, the election turn-out rate was 61.4%. The country received a D on the voting report card, but more importantly, 40% of the country did not have their voices heard. In 2012, the voter turn-out was only marginally better at 63.6%. Historically, our voting recordings are getting less and less each year even though voting has become easier! Going to a polling location before, after, or during work is not always easy, but you can always vote by mail! With two young children, it is not easy for me to go vote so I vote by mail. This allows me to mail in my ballot without going to a polling location. It is super easy, and I still get to be a part of democratic process. Anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to vote by mail so feel free to check the box when you register to vote!
This November 6th is a mid-term election. If you over 18, please go vote! You need to register to vote by October 22nd: https://registertovote.ca.gov/ There are also great opportunities to be a poll worker and help work a polling station on election day. It is a great way to get involved in the election process and see democracy in action.
There are a lot of things going on in the world right now, and it is more important than ever that you allow your voice to be heard on issues that matter to you. If you want to see changes in your communities, states, and country, you have to vote. Change does not happen by staying silent, and voting is your voice!