Does Voting Really Matter?
You may have heard – or you may believe – that it doesn’t really matter if you vote, that one vote doesn’t matter. Let’s see if that’s true.
In the modern age, many people complain that their vote has no meaning, but recent election results provide evidence to the contrary. Your vote matters, and here are several reasons why:
- In smaller-scale elections that normally feature low turnout, individual voters become much more important. Primaries and local elections often come down to a very small number of votes. Contests for individual seats have been decided by a single vote. Sometimes the outcome of one close, low-turnout race can decide control of an entire statehouse, a critical outcome in an era when so many policy mandates take place at local levels. In 2022, Republican Mike Garcia beat Democratic challenger Christy Smith to retain control of California’s 25th Congressional District (redistricted to the 27th Congressional District) by a mere 333 votes. Rep. Garcia’s win helped give Republicans the 218 seats needed to retain the House in the midterm elections. House Republicans ultimately won the majority by 6,670 votes, or 0.006 percent of the nationwide popular vote.
- Small margins have huge impacts on bigger elections too. In 2020, Joe Biden won the popular vote by almost seven million. But in terms of the Electoral College, he won in three key states by a total of only 44,000 votes. If Trump had won them, the resultant tie in the Electoral College would have been decided by the Republican House of Representatives. By the same turn, Trump won the Electoral College in 2016 by only 80,000 total votes in six swing states, a miniscule percentage.
- Not voting today is essentially a vote for the candidate that you may not want. Even if you are not wild about a candidate, if you would prefer a more moderate voice to one that is more extreme, sitting out an election means that you are helping the people that you may not want to see in office.
Individual votes are also important because some citizens may be prohibited or prevented from voting. Despite being a constitutional right, a person’s vote can essentially be taken away by election rules implemented at the state level. Multiple forms of voter suppression—including voter ID laws, voter roll purges, polling place closures, and mail-in ballot restrictions—prevent people from casting their votes, while gerrymandered districts reduce the effectiveness of individual votes. These new election laws have already been implemented in multiple states.
The ability to vote should never be taken for granted. The hard work that resulted in electoral rights for every American must be protected by hard work at the ballot box. Voting in every election is paramount, because you never know how few votes can make a world of difference. Even if you are not the deciding vote, you can play a vital role in making sure the right person who supports the democratic process is put into office, or that a political extremist doesn’t become your local representative. VOTE.
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