According to a study conducted by PBS, only about 58 percent of eligible Americans took to the polls in 2016 to vote in the presidential election. For many Americans, it might come as a surprise that so few eligible people vote, but some may expect this.
With midterm elections approaching fast, now is the time to vote
Many Americans feel that their vote doesn’t matter — which could be a key issue to why voting statistics are so low. If you type into Google “does my vote matter?” a whole host of articles pop up with phrases like, “No really, your vote doesn’t matter.”
Results in a study by the New York Times found voters fear their ballot won’t count. The study reflected how Americans felt about the 2016 election and said, “Fewer than half of Americans are very confident that their vote for president will be counted correctly — and most say their ballot will not matter anyway because the political process is so dominated by corporate interests.”
Such websites and studies confirm that Americans generally feel unsure about the importance of voting. However — as with any issue — there is always a flip side.
Voting is a key element of democracy, and while this has been said many times, it holds true in our current world now more than ever.
Historically, marginalized groups had to fight tooth and nail for the right to vote. This struggle is an essential element of collective American history. In the book Why Voting Matters by Kip Almasy, the complicated system of the American government has broken down.
“Without a vote, you have no voice and no influence in how decisions are made,” Almasy writes.
Recent political events have spurred voters, particularly women and people of color, to take to the polls. While it is unknown how many voters belonging to these groups will vote, CNN stated, “If Democrats win the House, as we currently forecast, it will be because of women voters. The Democratic Party is currently benefiting from the largest gender gap on record for a midterm election.”
The Times article said millennials are one group that feel strongly their vote will not count. In fact, 66 percent of millennials think their vote doesn't matter, making them the least likely age group to vote.
It is your constitutional right to vote. Voters should be well educated about candidates and read up about issues important to them before hitting the polls — a whole host of resources exist for voters who need to know more. These include a voting pamphlet created by the League of Women Voters, Ballotpedia and numerous articles found in the Daily Lobo and other media outlets.
Young voters in particular should be committed to voting because the policies up for vote now will impact the rest of their lives. What's more, issues important to students will not be addressed without student votes. The more university students that vote, the more that particular group of constituents will be heard.
Megan Holmen is the assistant news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @megan_holmen.