There are some political scientists who argue that, when looking at the actual numbers, your vote really doesn’t matter. In other words, in the whole of all the votes counted during an election, your one vote is statistically insignificant.
While there may be some truth to this belief statistically, at least for the presidential election, I’m here to tell you four reasons why your vote does count. Even if you already believe your vote counts, perhaps you can use this article to convince any friends who are jaded and disgruntled with the election process, to vote.
One: If Everyone Believed Their Vote Didn’t Matter, No One Would Vote
I know that this is rather intuitive but it’s really important to remember. What if your cynical friend’s perspective of voting was shared by everyone? How would that work out? Well, it would work out like this: no one would vote. And if no one votes, the beauty of our Constitutional Republic, and the accountability that our government has to the people, would disappear.
Two: Statistically, Your Vote Does Matter In All Elections but The President’s
So, this is where American citizens suffer the most dramatic disconnect. Why do we all focus so much of our energy, time and effort on the election of the president at the expense of all other elections? Think about it. Mid-term elections have a much lower turnout than elections that include the president. Local elections draw hardly any voters. And yet, what can the president, with his limited Constitutional powers, actually do to directly affect us and our daily life? He can’t make law, so even if we wanted certain laws to be passed, focusing on our president more than our senators or representatives hurts rather than helps the chances of some law being passed. Why? Because, ultimately, it’s our lawmaking representatives in Congress that are going to both introduce and pass any legislation.
Here’s the real kicker: local government affects us far more than the federal government does. It’s our local government that decides whether or not to build a new park in our community. It’s our state government that builds most of our new roads. It’s the local and state government that handle most issues having to do with taxes, education, business regulation and the like. Our lives are directly affected by local government on a daily basis.
And guess what? Our vote does make a difference during local elections! Few people turn out to vote in local elections, and since it’s local, few people can turn out to vote in local elections. This means that one vote is statistically significant. And yet, we don’t vote in the elections where our vote does matter and where the results of the election will affect us the most. No, we vote in the one election where our vote matters the least—the one where the results will have the least amount of direct impact on us and our daily lives.
If Americans would get a hold of this, America would and could dramatically change. We would have active, engaged citizens who involve themselves in taking care of their town or city and want people representing them and building that community park to draw more people to their town and perhaps even more industry. It would be the most beautiful and ideal version of America! Local, small, personal and vibrant.
Three: Voting Keeps Your Representatives On Alert
The fewer people who vote, the less our representatives have to pay attention to keeping the population as a whole, happy. They may focus on the more extreme wings of their constituency, whether that be interest groups or industry, but they aren’t really paying attention to all of their constituents. Why would they? If we aren’t all mobilizing to vote, while the more passionate, ideologically extreme members of the population are, our representatives are going to concern themselves with pleasing the more radical and active portion of their constituency rather than the constituency as a whole. And that leads to more ideologically extreme legislators and legislation.
Four: It Is Your Civic Duty
Now, I know this might not matter to a lot of people, but it should. I’ve emphasized time and time again that we, the people, must fight to keep our representatives accountable to the Constitution. How can we do that? By voting! Very literally, that is the one and only link that we have to our government. Most of us don’t have a direct connection or access to government officials. But, even if we did have direct access but we couldn’t vote, our advice to them would have little or no effect on them.
Remember, elected officials want to keep their job and the primary way they keep their job is by making us happy. So, it is incumbent upon us, as American citizens, to educate ourselves and fight to keep our representatives accountable, first to the Constitution, and then to us.
Voting is a privilege and one that unfortunately, many Americans take for granted or neglect. But we should care to vote not just because we should but because we are invested in our own self-governance. We want to take care of our communities, cities, states and nation. We’ve been blessed with the ability to do so. Why waste such a precious gift? Let’s not waste it, friends. Let’s involve ourselves in all levels of self-governance, and we may yet have hope.
The Liberty Belle