Without fail, this time of year feels like a battle between advocates and activists versus people who don’t vote. Don’t get me wrong, it’s completely up to you if you want to participate in elections or not—that’s one of the benefits of our country being free. What frustrates me is the most common reasons I hear for not voting stem from misinformation and lack of political education. So for those of you who say you don’t vote because “my vote won’t count” or “politics doesn’t affect me” or “I don’t understand politics anyway”, I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but let me take another jab at trying to convince you otherwise. I’ll start with some statistics. Did you know that…
• Only about 60 percent of eligible voters participate in presidential elections
• Less than 50 percent of eligible voters participate in midterm elections
• Less than 20 percent of eligible young voters participated in the presidential election in 2016
I don’t know about you, but those numbers are ridiculous to me. How are our elected officials supposed to accurately represent the American people if the American people don’t tell the government who they want to represent them? The fewer people that vote, the less in touch our elected officials—the people who make laws that tell us what we can and cannot do—are with the American people.
I hear so many people, especially those around my age, declare with severe apathy and sometimes a hint of pride that, “I don’t vote because I don’t know anything about politics, but what I do know doesn’t affect me.” Maybe this is a personal belief, or maybe this shows the kind of privilege they have, but I always wonder how can being uninformed be a positive or even a neutral thing? I know the political climate in the United States (and much of the world) is exhausting to follow, but even if it becomes a once a year activity for you, it’s super beneficial to learn who is on your ballot each November and to see how closely their priorities align with yours.
Politics is a very difficult word to define, but something I want you to take away from this piece is that it affects nearly every aspect of our lives. It affects how much of each of our paychecks is taken out for taxes. It affects how much we pay each year for higher education. It affects our access to physical and mental health care services, the quality of food we can buy in stores, the
In most states, it’s too late to register to vote in this election. But if you are registered to vote, please please please actively choose to vote. Midterm elections are just important, if not more important than the presidential elections because if you look at how laws are made, those 535 US Senators and Representatives have a lot more control over what laws we put in place than the president. So while the President of the United States may be the most powerful person in the country, Congress is the most powerful group and can override the president in many situations.
Not to mention, many state Congress seats and governor and lieutenant governor positions are up for election in November! Looking for change within your own state or on a more local level? You’re probably going to want to vote, too. You can check on Vote411.org to see which positions you’re voting for, who’s running, and get information on their campaign.