If you live in the States, we can’t help but hear about the latest presidential “Tweet” or “Breaking News” report about politics these days. Everyone seems to be having heated discussions on Facebook and giving their opinions on topics from Global Warming to Chinese Trade. Before the last few years, I had no idea all my friends were experts on every topic! If you are having trouble winning these debates, you can always read my previous post How to Appear Smart (7 Simple Ways). Don’t get me wrong, I love intellectual conversations and debates. I try to tread lightly and be respectful. Arguing on social media about politics can mean lost friendships and result in being “BLOCKED” forever. Everyone has opinions but are they voting?
With everyone being political experts all of a sudden, you must be aware elections are coming up on Tuesday, November 6th. Do you feel as passionate about voting as the topics being discussed over Twitter? After all, there is no president up for election this year. You may be asking yourself, why do I even need to vote this election? If you are not going to vote, It’ll be my little secret and I won’t tell. “Why Are Millions of Citizens Not Registered to Vote?” by pewtrusts.org has some great insight into why many citizens do not vote. So if you are not going to vote. You are not alone. Check out the graph below:
These are very real reasons and I completely understand these points of view. I would just challenge you to think about your reasons and let me show you a few reasons to consider when thinking about if you will vote this year.
It can be fun!
No really, I swear it can be fun. Everyone will be talking about the election. Many will be posting “I voted” stickers on social media. You can watch results unfold online or on TV. Many of your favorite celebrities will be talking about their political views. It can really make you feel like you are part of “the club”. It’s a phenomenon happening across the entire nation.
It’s almost like watching a sporting event as you watch the votes come in and the graphs start going up and down. However, unlike a sporting event, the winners can actually affect your daily life (unless you lost it all on the big game which may have some bad effect on your daily life too!). It can be interesting to see your vote actually affect the world we live in, such as marijuana becoming legal in California. This year abolishing Daylight Savings Time is on the ballot in California. This would definitely affect my daily life if I didn’t have to change back or forward the clock twice a year. So vote and be a part of a national event!
You get out of work!
Well…Maybe. Once you register, you will get the polling location in the mail. The polls are open from 7am – 8pm. Not everyone has the option to get off work but sometimes your employer will give you time off to vote. It can also be a mandated law in your state to give you time off to vote. Some companies even pay you for taking time off to vote. Ask your employer or talk to HR about the specifics. This website will let you know what your state law is when it comes to taking off work to vote. Just put your State in the drop-down box: FIND OUT YOUR STATE’S VOTING RIGHTS HERE Just make sure you actually vote and keep your receipt. Your employer may dock your pay if you don’t actually go vote during this time.
Voting pays respect to those before you
We have so many freedom’s today but if you can vote, believe me, someone fought for that right. Don’t fall asleep yet, but remember the Revolutionary War. Once the USA won its independence from, we were able to vote for George Washington as a country in 1789. However, ONLY white men who owned property had the right to vote. * It took much fighting and violence for former black slaves to gain the right to vote in 1890, almost 100 years after the first election! Women protested, were arrested, and even went on hunger strikes. Women gained the right to vote in 1920.* 131 years after the first election!
Even after the right to vote was given to minorities and women, there was voter suppression, including poll taxes and literacy tests, which were not banned until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Included in this discussion is the military who fought for the democracy in the past and fight for us today! Not to guilt you into anything, but a vote today is a vote to honor those who literally fought with blood and sweat for our rights in the past.
Voter suppression still happens today
Did you know that some people still might not want you to vote today? Lucky, there are many voter advocacy groups fighting for all our voting rights to continue. A recent example of what voting suppression can look like today is the current lawsuit in, Gwinnett County, Georgia. Gwinnett County is under investigation this year for voter suppression.
“Gwinnett County represents nine percent of the state of Georgia, but 37 percent of the absentee ballots that were rejected were here in Gwinnett County.” The county has rejected 595 absentee ballots, with more than 300 of them belonging to Asian American and black voters.”*
This is just one example to show there is a lot going on right under our noses. Therefore, many are still fighting today for our rights.
If you don’t vote, then they choose for you!
Who’s they? Everyone else! The current population of the United States is 325.7 million. * In 2016, there were about 200 million Americans eligible to vote.* However, in 2016, only 58% of registered voters actually voted or about only 116 million people. Therefore, just about one-third of the US population is voting for EVERYTHING that happens in the livelihoods of the other 200 million people who do not (or can’t) vote.*
Also If we look a little closer at who is voting, there are certain groups who are more likely to vote than other groups. College graduates vote more often than less educated. Wealthier people vote more as well. Age is a huge factor as well because older people are more likely to vote too. Millennials appear to not be as interested in voting because many candidates are over 35 years old. If millennials do not see their age group represented, it is difficult for us to vote.* However, as you consider to vote this year, look at the numbers. 1/3 of America is voting for ALL of us. They are mostly the well educated, wealthy, and older generations. This does not represent all of us so voting can help us get a more equal representation of what we all want.
Here is a comical video that pokes fun at the fact that it is well known that mostly only elderly people vote:
Stop telling me this! I don’t know anything about politics!
Ok so you read all these reasons but you are still saying, “I have no idea anything about politics. If I don’t know anything, then it would just be flat out irresponsible to vote”. If you are registered, you will get everything in the mail to read to make a good decision. It depends on where you live but I found a helpful site that allows you to LOOK UP VOTING INFORMATION IN YOUR AREA. I do understand it takes a bit of time to read everything. But don’t feel too intimidated. No one says you need to know everything and also you don’t have to vote for every item when you are at the poll either.
Now that you have done all the reading about the propositions and the candidates, you are feeling pretty confident to vote. Right? You will be in the “club” with other voters, you may get out of work for a few hours, you’ll be honoring those who fought for you and continue to fight for you, and you will contribute to a more well-rounded representation of voters. I haven’t told you the best part though! Here is one big perk. Next time you get into a twitter war, ask your “rival” if they voted. You can DM them a picture of your “I Voted” sticker. Then, tell them to stop typing and to go put their vote where their tweets are.
Is there a reason that you vote that I missed? Are you convinced that voting doesn’t matter? Let me know in the comments. I did my best to provide some actual facts and resources. Still, I would love to hear any opinions that you have!
* = References