In the 2016 presidential election, approximately 100 million eligible voters did not show up to the polls. Out of these 100 million voters, 15% stayed at home because they felt their votes did not matter. It is imperative that we change these statistics so that more voices are represented in November.
“My vote doesn’t matter” is a commonly heard phrase among American voters, especially younger voters, and is often widely accepted in non-swing states. Living in a non-swing state can make it easier to decide not to vote – after all, the state may already be red or blue (aside from Maine and Nebraska) and the electoral college typically votes according to the popular vote.
So, does your vote matter if you aren’t in a swing state? The demographics of the 132 million people who did vote in 2016 are not exactly proportionally representative of our actual population. Of these voters, 74% were white, however only 60% of our entire population is white. Age demographics were also skewed: 27% of voters were over the age of 65, but only 12.4% of our population fits this age group. And 67% of Gen Z women did not even vote in the 2016 election. It is crucial that more voters show up this coming November if we want to accurately represent our interests as a population.
While it is extremely important to vote in presidential elections, your vote also matters at the state and local levels. Elections can be extremely close, and it’s even possible that one single vote could determine an election. At the state and local levels, elections are solely based on popular vote. In 2018 a single vote determined a Vermont state Senate Democratic primary and in 2016 a Wyoming state House GOP primary was again, decided by one vote. Still think your vote doesn’t matter?
It’s 2020. Exactly 100 years have passed since women gained the right to vote and 56 years have gone by since the Civil Rights Act was passed (truly enforced by the Voting Rights Act of 1965) allowing all citizens, regardless of race, the right to vote. As a 21 year old woman living in 2020, I have been voting for 3 years. However, It was not until 1971 that the voting age turned to 18 as a result of the Vietnam War draft. The ability to vote is arguably one of the most powerful rights a citizen has – each vote is a voice that speaks volumes about how we want our nation to function. If we want to see change in our country and accurately represent our population, it is essential that we use the power we have that so many people before us fought to gain.