Why You Should Always Vote
As the political world becomes more and more overrun with candidates that we feel are the lesser of two evils, many feel that voting isn’t worth it. The electoral college leaves those living in predominantly Democrat or Republican states feeling as if their voice will be lost, regardless of their views. This feeling of insignificance may not be entirely in the voters’ heads. Prior to the 2008 election, Kevin Lanning, PhD, paraphrased University Minnesota psychologist Paul E. Meehl, stating “The probability that I'll be the deciding vote in the 2008 presidential election is much smaller than the chance that I'll get hit by a car on the way to the polls.”
Aside from this, voting is a relatively large time commitment, and registration costs money. And if you plan to be educated on what you’re voting for, the time commitment can rapidly grow as you take time out of your day to learn about what each candidate stands for.
So, Is It Worth It?
With all of this ringing true, many voters approach each election asking themselves “does it even matter if I vote?” This is an important question, and it is important that voters of all ages fully understand the answer. While the answer from most will be a resounding “yes,” most people don’t actually have a well thought out explanation as to why. While referencing the fact that many have fought and died to accomplish voting rights is inspirational and nationalistic in nature, it doesn't change the fact that individual votes don’t seem to hold much weight in today’s political environment. So why, really, does it matter if you vote?
Candidates and Public Opinion
While your individual vote for President may not sway your state or the winner of the election, it does give you a voice in some ways. Candidates respond to public favor. They need to maintain the public’s favor in order to maintain their positions. For this reason, they take a deep interest in what the majority of people want. Your vote may not directly impact who becomes president, but it can give more of a voice to the issues you find important. It can make politicians on any level pay more attention to immigration, gun laws, tax breaks, or any other issue that you hold near and dear to your heart.
Local Elections Are Important, Too
The sense of insignificance one feels during the presidential election is not nearly as present in local elections. Congressional and gubernatorial elections tend to be much closer than elections for the presidency. These elections are also extremely important in shaping the political future of America, and are another reason that voting is incredibly important. Election turnouts spike astronomically during presidential elections, mostly due to the large amount of media coverage these elections see. However, the local elections are equally as important on years the president is not being elected. Senators, Representatives, and local officials have a large say in many monumental political decisions. If you don’t feel that your vote for president is worthwhile, at least take the time and money to visit the polls to vote for these officials and have your voice heard on a level that is much closer to home. These representatives will largely determine where your tax money goes. If that doesn’t make the registration fee worth it, not much will.
Voting also makes you keep a closer eye on politics and current events. Few people would agree that it is wise to vote blindly. Consequently, you must be more aware of the events around you if you plan to vote consistently. This not only makes you more educated and keeps you in sync with the world in which you live, but also makes you more likely to advocate for the changes that you recognize need to be made. Information is a catalyst of progress, and voting creates a need for information.