Monthly Archives: October 2020

The Power of Your Vote

We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate. Thomas Jefferson

We are entering the home stretch of the Tuesday, Nov. 3, Election Day. This election may be the most contentious – lines etched deeply in the sand – in our country’s history. Yet, no matter what your party affiliation is or who you are rooting for, what’s important is exercising your right to vote.

With the voter registration deadlines looming across the country (Florida’s deadline – Online: Oct. 5, Mail-in: Postmarked by Oct. 5, In person: Oct. 5), time is of the essence to ensure your vote counts.

Strong voter turnout is essential to a healthy democracy. Sadly, voter turnout in the U.S. is much lower than most established democracies. Typical voter turnout in presidential election years is approximately 60 percent of the eligible voting population. During midterm elections, voter turnout drops to about 40 percent. Local elections tend to be decided by a much smaller group, with fewer than 15 percent of eligible voters turning out.

These percentages are troubling because it reflects the political disengagement of the U.S. voting population. People who are eligible to vote and don’t are renouncing one of the most effective ways to shape the direction of our country and the local communities in which we live.

If you think your one vote doesn’t make that much of a difference, you’re mistaken.

In 2000, Al Gore narrowly lost the Electoral College vote to George W. Bush, with the election coming down to a recount in Florida. Bush had won Florida’s popular vote by such a small margin that it triggered an automatic recount as well as a Supreme Court case (Bush v. Gore). Bush ended up taking Florida by only 0.009 percent of the votes cast or 537 votes.

In the 2016 election, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by a close Electoral College win. Clinton had won the popular vote by nearly three million votes, however, the concentration of votes for Trump in the key “swing” states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan gave him enough electoral votes to win the race.

Every vote counts! Participating in elections is one of the key freedoms of being an American. Your vote is your voice. It’s a powerful way of telling lawmakers, on community, state and national levels, what you want and what issues are important to you.

However, merely casting your vote is only part of your civic duty. You should be an informed voter as well. Not knowing anything about any of the candidates or issues isn’t an excuse for haphazardly or apathetically voting, or not voting at all. Bring yourself up to speed on political issues, local and national, and determine where you stand. It’s not too late. Fortunately, we have the power of the Internet today, and finding out who each candidate is and what he or she stands for couldn’t be easier. Check out candidates’ websites and social media pages as well as news articles about them. The posts of your Facebook “friends” shouldn’t shape your opinions of candidates and issues.

Voting is not just a right, it’s a civic responsibility. Voting only takes a few minutes but has an impact for years to come.

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