Americans must fight political apathy
During voting season, a commonly asked question is, “Does my vote really matter?” Too often citizens feel their ballot is lost among the numbers and that they hold little political efficacy. Younger voters can cast their opinion for issues such as college finances, new technology laws or even minimum wage, but for the most part choose not to.
Well, does your vote really matter? Yes, it does.
For starters, voting is a foundation for healthy democracy. Ballots elect officials to represent their views in government, develop policies and enact decisions that cause ripples across every facet of society.
The impacts of voting and political decisions touch nearly every aspect of daily life, from safety, to housing, to education, national defense, and even our health. If everyone voted for their respective choice, we would end up with the most accurate representation.
The freedom to vote is not only one of America’s most important rights, it is also historically the most fought for and hardest-won right besides our independence. In the early years of our republic, only white landowners could vote. Today, after the civil rights movement and women’s rights movement, among many other suffrage based movements, all qualified citizens over the age of 18 can vote in elections.
In the last presidential election, approximately 58% of eligible voters cast their ballots, meaning just over half of America is represented in the results. However, the turnout percentage is less as campaigns get more local and fewer votes for made for offices listed toward the bottom of the ballot.
Most notably, the United States presidential election of 2000 between George W. Bush and Al Gore shows how each vote could make a difference. The race was so close that it came down to the electoral votes of Florida to decide the winner. Bush won by such a close margin, state law demanded a recount that showed Bush won Florida by a margin of .009%, or 537 votes, in a state with over 16,000,000 residents.
Your vote does matter and it is your civic duty to participate. Historically, eligible youth voter (18-24) turnout is lower than any other age group. Certain high school seniors and recent graduates have the ability to make a difference and change this statistic, but must choose to do so.
One of recent presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ major platforms was free college for students which might appeal to youth voters. Another issue younger voters may be interested in is the debate of raising of minimum wage.
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