I’m Voting for the First Time Ever This Year and You Should Too
This year I’ll be voting for the first time ever in the upcoming mid-term elections. After some introspection and reflection over the past two years, it’s long overdue.
Why the wait? I just never believed in voting. I felt my vote was meaningless. That the money of politicians overruled the public voice. I hoped that the people in our country who did vote would choose good politicians who would be wise and sensible enough to make decisions for the betterment of society.
Wow… I got that one wrong!
Now, before anyone jumps on the bandwagon of harassing my decision not to vote over previous years, I do have some reasons. It started with a middle school Government teacher I had that outright told our 7th-grade class that our votes for the president were a waste because the electoral college and other politicians ultimately made the choice. This was later reinforced in later years as I watched presidents lose the popular vote but still win the office because of the weighting of the electoral college.
Not only that, but I HATED the unrest, conflict, and anger that political differences caused in society. These differences in political opinion brought out the worst in people. The world of politics on the inside wasn’t much better with all the stories of corruption, irresponsibility, and scandal. I wanted to disassociate myself from politics completely.
And that’s what I did. I wanted nothing to do with politics. I took the stance to sit back and hope everything would work out, essentially delegating all the important decision making to the rest of the country. Even when thinking about the possibility of voting, I began to think to myself… It’s a broken system, what does my one little vote matter? My vote was a speck of dust in a vast universe. What would even be the point?
Clearing Up the Misconceptions
In hindsight, my old middle school Government teacher only got it partially right. She missed an important concept that I think a lot of people have misconceptions about. In fact, I think many people in our country aren’t really sure how our government system works. Yes, it is true our votes may not matter for positions in higher office. What does count are the people we elect to put in the lower positions that ultimately do represent us and vote for the higher politicians.
You see, it all trickles up. The real point of voting is picking the people we want to represent our voice and beliefs when it’s their turn to cast their votes and make important decisions on our behalf.
Not only that, but our local government offices are filled almost entirely by the voice of the public. The national government is important, but it’s our state and local governments that often have a bigger direct impact on our lives. State laws even supersede federal laws often times, and these state laws usually play the biggest part in our daily lives. Local taxes, property costs, small business benefits, where our tax dollars go, what public services are available, education systems, driver laws, the list goes on and on. By electing people who believe what we believe for local government, we can create the environment we want.
We can’t guarantee everything will always go as planned, but we at least must make a good and informed choice for those who will stand up for what we believe in. There also will probably still be corruption and other illegal and unethical behavior as long as politics are politics, but that’s even more reason to let our voices be heard so we ensure that the most honest and ethical people are elected. Let’s vote to get the bad out and the good in!
Understanding Why I Must Vote
So why am I finally deciding to vote? Various events over the past two years have made it impossible for me to ignore the world of politics any longer. I can’t stand idly by and just hope that “things will work out for the best”. Even though my single vote is a speck in a sea of votes, I realized how foolish and ignorant this excuse is.
Yes, I only have a single vote to give, but how many other people are in the same boat as me? How many other people out there don’t vote because they feel their vote is insignificant? Well, if all of us were to get up and vote, our vote is not so insignificant anymore!
I have to do my part. Not voting because you feel your vote is meaningless actually makes that belief come true.
Another big motivator was some research I did on voter turnout over the past several elections. I was shocked by the findings. 40% of eligible citizens DID NOT vote in the last primary elections. Mid-term election voter turnout has been historically worse with ~60% not showing up to vote (Last year’s midterm election only had a turnout of 35.9%! 64.1% did not vote!)
Whatever the reason this 40-60% of people decide not to vote, it’s not a good thing. Over half the country is “checking out” and letting others decide for them (only 4% did not vote due to registration problems). Considering an eligible voting population of 235 million people, this means that over 100 MILLION people are not voting. Even having a turnout of 1-2% more voters could have a major impact on what politicians are holding office.
I also saw a recent video with Barack Obama that helped shed some light on a lot of the misconceptions about voting. This really resonated with me. So many of the non-voting population say the exact things covered in the video. My vote doesn’t matter. Politics suck. Politicians will always be out of touch with what society needs. It’s like that because so many people ARE NOT voting! Once again, 60% did not vote in the last general election. Can you imagine if all of us upset with the government voted and made our voice heard? We might not need to complain anymore!
I think Obama said it well, many politicians are running for office and COUNTING on the vast majority of people not voting. They lobby towards the populations they feel do historically vote and couldn’t care less about the people that don’t agree with them because they are hoping we simply won’t vote! There are candidates that believe in terrible things, but they simply hope their campaign marketing will allow them to slip into office.
It’s More Important Than Ever That We Vote
Whatever our reasons for not voting in the past, it’s important we let our voices be heard. The United States is in the bottom third for voter turnout for all wealthy and developed countries. Even if we do feel our vote is meaningless, we need to do our part and vote anyway. We can’t count on others to make the best choices for us. It was foolish of me. If we all vote, our voices can unite and be heard!
In prior years, some might have had difficulty finding the time to go vote. Thankfully, most states have made voting easier than ever. Online voting (in some states), mail-in and absentee ballots, and some companies are even starting to give employees paid time off to go vote. Even voter registration has been made easier. With the various options, it’s hard to find an excuse not to take the time to vote.
Last but not least, regardless of whether you’re voting for the 1st time or 50th time, please don’t vote blindly or ignorantly. Take some time to research the candidates running for office and positions and make an informed decision. I feel that many people just vote strictly for their political party (Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, etc) without really researching the candidates and what they stand for. We need to pick the candidates that stand most for what we believe in regardless of their political party! I have no issue with voting for someone in a different political party than mine and you shouldn’t either.
Now Go Get Ready to Vote!
So I’m voting this year and it’s been a mistake to wait this long. I need to do what I can to make sure the world becomes the best place it can be, for EVERYONE. My vote may be insignificant by itself, but if we all vote, I’m sure it won’t be insignificant any longer. This is why you should vote, too. Your voice matters, but it certainly won’t be heard if you don’t vote.
Voting for this year’s election is November 6th, 2018. Many states even will allow you to register on the day of the election! You can also use this helpful website to see various options for voter registration in your state.
Now go get registered, research the candidates, and get ready to vote!
– Mr. Happy Work