Monday Author: Susanne Skinner
Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote. ~ George Jean Nathan
On November 3rd, every American citizen over the age of 18 has the opportunity to exercise their right to vote. Each of us will choose the candidate we believe is best suited to lead our country for the next four years. This is one of the most polarizing elections in American history; the decisions have the power to change our government for years to come.
Nobody knows the outcome, despite speculation from parties, polls and people.
It is every voter’s job to hold politicians accountable, and this year, more than any other in my memory, the election is burdened with deep party division and contention.
Social distancing rules, along with a record number of mail-in ballots, early voting and first-time voters, casts a long shadow over the election. Lines are longer, mail is slower, and both sides have put an aggressive and sometimes violent stake in the ground for their candidate.
Millions of people will vote by absentee ballot or by mail, and not every state or post office is equipped to handle the volume. The continuing specter of Covid-19 lends itself to voter suppression, confusion and fear.
The most important thing you can do in this election is show up to vote. Do not let anyone prevent you, discourage you or stand in your way.
Throwing Away Your Vote
You may decide neither candidate aligns with your values. You may choose to put your party over your country, selecting a secondary candidate with no chance of winning. But when they don’t win, what good did your vote do? You made a statement, then threw it away.
If you think the Republican or the Democratic nominee mirrors your beliefs, then vote for that candidate. If you don’t, and you still vote for them, you’re helping to preserve a status quo you don’t support.
“Voting isn’t marriage, it’s taking the bus. You take the bus that gets you where you need to go. You don’t have to love the bus. You won’t be on the bus for the rest of your life. It may not be the bus you wanted, but it beats having to walk 20 blocks because the bus you wanted didn’t have the gas to get you where you wanted to go.”
Elections have consequences, and if you want to waste your vote on a matter of principle, then you have no ground to stand on when you are unhappy with the results.
Vote for Your Future
Your vote may not directly elect the president, but if your vote joins enough others in your voting district or county, it will matter when it comes to electoral results.
Most states have a “winner take all” system where the popular vote winner gets the state’s electoral votes. There are also local and state elections to consider. While presidential elections usually get a significant voter turnout, other national and local elections are just as important, even though they are decided by a smaller group of voters.
Your vote is your power, the most important power you have as a United States citizen. Voting determines how you want your country, state and local communities to be governed. It’s an investment in decisions directly affecting you, your families and your friends.
Third-party voting is one way to vote without supporting a mainstream choice. It’s essentially a protest vote that isn’t going to affect the outcome of the election .
While many people think this is a great alternative, it isn’t the road to take in this election. Disenfranchised voters, including a few public officials (I’m looking at you Charlie Baker) publicly stated they will write in the name of an alternate candidate.
If you vote for someone other than your party’s main candidate or decide not to vote at all, you are helping the opposing candidate win.
No third-party candidate has ever won a presidential election. In past elections popular write-in names included Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Bugs Bunny.
If you are not voting, you are failing to represent yourself and your demographic.
By choosing not to vote, you weaken the overall voice of those who do vote. This is your loss as well as a loss for the democracy that supports you. Your voice is your vote. If you don’t show up, your voice isn’t heard.
Participating in elections is a freedom that belongs to every American citizen. Your freedom to vote has been hard won. No matter what you believe or whom you support, it is important to exercise your voting rights.
The Importance of Showing Up
When young people decide not to vote, they are disproportionately represented in the government. Environmental action, college debt, and the federal minimum wage are issues that directly affect America’s Millennials and Generation Z. They are not sufficiently represented when YOU decide not to participate in a presidential election.
Election results come down to those who decided voting is worth the effort. An election is determined by the people who show up.
Vote. Your future depends on it.