Since the founding of the United States, the concept of Democracy appeared to be an idea that could never be reached; luckily, through war and bloodshed, after civil rights movements and protests, the right to vote has become a reality for just about every American. With the approaching election this November, and the ever anticipated 2020 presidential election crawling ever closer with the primaries in just a few months, voters across the community will be able to voice their opinion on who deserves their vote. However, it seems that voting has lost its appeal and the state and country is becoming more polarized that normal. This is because the majority of Americans are not voicing their opinion until it is too late. According to VoteRGY, a non-profit that works to encourage young voters, states that less than 20% of Americans vote in most elections. And, in the 2016 presidential election, over 40% of the American population, around 110 million people, did not vote. When people don’t vote, several consequences occur: candidates are elected into office that do not accurately represent the majority and the minority that vote get to speak for the rest of Americans leading to customarily unpopular laws.
Before expanding upon the negative impacts of not voting, it is helpful to understand the United States election system. Over the next two years, several types of elections will occur that able voters can participate. These elections include federal, state and local elections. These elections range from voting for presidents and congressmen to district school board members. When the construction of election timelines, the founding fathers spaced out elections based on their importance. Elections occur just about every year, and definitely every two years. The more impactful the office position is on someone’s life is directly correlated to the frequency of the election for that office. For example, the presidency will most likely have a lesser impact on the average American in comparison to the local city council, and therefore city council elections occur every two years, while the general presidential election occurs every four years.
Even though more people vote for presidential elections on average, local governments are significantly more impactful than federal offices. For example, property taxes are determined by local governments. Speed limits are chosen by local governments. Laws, such as the ability to have possession on certain drugs, are determined by state legislatures. Most likely, the presidential election will only affect marginalized groups, not average citizens.
It may seem, however, that not every vote is important. This is not always true. Most elections are much closer than they appear. The official results of the state of Alaska’s 2008 general election proved that every vote can make the difference between who is elected into office. Mike Kelly (R) won his district’s seat in the Alaskan state legislature over Karl Kassel (D) by just one vote. In swing states that change their vote from republican to democrat and vise versa from election to election, elections never truly have an exact outcome. As the 2020 presidential election comes closer, more and more states are becoming more and more purple. According to the Rolling Stone, Kansas could become a swing state. With the election of Governor Laura Kelly (D) and House Representative Sharice Davids (D), Kansas has shown, in its most populated districts, that the state may have the possibility of voting blue. This contrasts with Kansas’s history of voting as Kansas has not voted blue since the election of 1964 for Lyndon B. Johnson.
As citizens, people should know how elected officials will vote on issues and learn to vote accordingly. However, when people do not vote, a disproportionate representation of the American population is given power. This led to the most statistically unpopular president with only a 32% approval rating upon entering the oval office in 2017. Regardless of people’s personal opinion about the sitting president, it is clear that the polarization that occurred was because nearly half of Americans did not vote.
Every vote matters because every election matters. As Americans, people in the United States have a right that a large amount of the world is still fighting to get. Regardless if one vote does not seem like a lot, that mentality can affect millions of people, and millions of votes can make a huge difference.
For anyone over the age of 18 who is not already registered to vote, click the following link: https://vote.gov