“A vote is the best way of getting the kind of country and the kind of world you want.”-President Harry S. Truman
Americans are entitled to Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These inalienable rights will only remain if we protect them, and the best way to do that is by voting. Once every two to four years Americans have the chance to head to the polls and let their voice be heard by casting a ballot on Election Day. Voting is one of the most important duties bestowed upon every citizen of the United States. Unfortunately, many Americans choose not to vote. There are a lot of reasons people don’t vote; from apathy or low information, to disenfranchisement or simply because they think their vote doesn’t matter. But your vote does count.
Voting isn’t just a civic duty, it’s the expression of our freedom of self-governing. In honor of the power, significance and responsibility of voting, we’re tackling some of the biggest misunderstandings about our individual votes.
Does my vote count?
Yes. Although elections often are won by thousands, if not tens of thousands of votes, it isn’t true that one vote can’t or won’t make a difference. Previous elections have been decided by a handful of votes. The 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore was ultimately decided by 537 votes. In the 2008 United States Senate race in Minnesota, Democrat Al Franken defeated Republican Norm Coleman by just 312 votes out of almost 2.9 million votes cast. As a result of Franken’s win the Democrats gained a supermajority in the Senate. On the state level, with more than 23,000 votes cast, a Virginia House of Delegates race ended in a tie and had to be decided by pulling a name, placed in a film canister, out of a bowl. Republican David Yancey was declared the winner and Republicans gained control over the House of Delegates by one seat. Every vote matters.
Isn’t choosing not to vote, a vote?
Sure, if your vote is against democracy.
Why should I vote?
Voting is your right, your duty, and your power. American democracy is built on the recognition that we all have the natural right to self-governance, and your vote is the fulfillment and expression of that liberty.
For democracy to function, citizens have to participate. When citizens do not vote they allow a fraction of the population to choose leaders and steer the country. In 2016, 40% of eligible voters did not vote, thus allowing the 60% of those who did cast a ballot to decide how the entire country should be governed. When you don’t exercise your right to vote you aren’t just surrendering your freedom to determine your own government, you’re actually robbing democracy of its power.
That’s because democracy works by reflecting the cumulative desires and needs of the country’s population. By not voting, you’re taking your perspective out of the conversation, rendering the democratic process less representative of the popular will. More voters means a more accurate election and a fairer representation of its citizens’ wants and needs.
Lastly, voting is all about fighting for what you want. By casting a vote either by mail or in person on Election Day you are telling the government not only who you want in charge, but how you want to be governed. Your vote is a vote for policies you believe will be best for you and your family. Do you really not want to have a say in what’s best for you and your family? People often complain about politics and the people in charge, but the only way to change that is by voting.
How do I vote?
We thought you’d never ask. 🙂 The first thing you need to do is ensure you are registered to vote. You can check your voter registration here. If you are already registered or shortly after you register you will receive a registration card with a polling location on it. However, if you would rather vote by mail be sure to check the laws in your state for guidelines for requesting an absentee or mail-in ballot as they vary from state to state.
Do I need to leave my house to vote?
Given the current circumstances, there is a lot of concern surrounding leaving your home to vote. Fortunately, many states offer the ability to vote by mail or send in an absentee ballot.
To learn more about vote by mail, click here.
Voting is the first line of defense in protecting democracy and holding government accountable. The right to vote is one that should not be squandered, because we have seen what happens when a majority of Americans sit home on Election Day. The truth is, if we stop exercising our right to vote the end result will be the erosion of American democracy.
Your vote is your voice and it is more important than ever that your voice be heard.