With election day right around the corner, it’s important that those who are registered to vote go to the polls and do their part. You may think that your vote doesn't matter, but you’d be surprised. Voting is a significant right that allows you to impact the future of our country. But if you’re still not convinced, here are five reasons that you should get out there and vote:
1) There is more than just the president on the ballot
What a President can or cannot do when elected depends largely on who controls the senate of or the House. If you think that you are in a definitive red or blue state, it’s still important that you vote because you can make a difference in the Congress. The competitive Senate and House races are not always in the presidential swing states. There are also a number of referenda on the ballot. And don’t forget local elections. When you vote in local elections, you vote for the issues that most directly affect you.
2) The margin of victory can be important.
If you live in a state that is neither competitive for the presidential election or on the congressional level, you should still vote. Even if a candidate who you don’t support is going to win by a landslide, you can decrease their margin of victory. This encourages the candidate to promote more moderate policies so that they don’t jeopardize their re-election. Conversely, if you are sure that your candidate will win, the candidate’s margin of victory can only advance the candidate’s agenda in office.
3) Many Americans struggled to win the right to vote.
While many Americans take their right to vote for granted, it wasn’t long ago that women and people of color were fighting for their right to vote. Women gained suffrage in 1919, and since this era, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans have all faced obstacles with regard to voting rights. There are currently a number of accessibility issues which lead people with disabilities to have difficulty voting. When people of color go to the polls, there is a marked difference. In fact, Brookings Institute said that Obama’s 2012 victory was largely due to the high turnout of people of color at the polls.
4) Those who vote get benefits.
Elected officials award more public resources to people to show up to the polls. According to a 2012 study conducted by economists at Dartmouth and Yale, Southern state governments started to transfer more funding to counties with large black populations after the 1965 Voting Rights Act gave African-Americans the franchise. Additionally, a 1962 Supreme Court ruling required states to draw state legislature and congressional debates that reflect the population distribution and equally represent all state residents. This led to an increase in state funds to counties that were previously underrepresented, according to a 2000 Yale-MIT study.
5) The higher the turnout, the more representative our democracy is.
Almost three-quarters to the American population supports raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but Congress will not act on this. One of the reasons for this is that a number of Americans who support these policies don’t bother voting. The groups most likely to support these policies, such as low-income people, young people and people of color, turn out in low numbers for midterm elections. If everyone gets out and votes, the vote will be more representative of the people who live in this country and all of our beliefs.
Voting can make a difference, not only with regard to who the president is, but what the president is allowed to do, as well as how your local government is run. Make sure you vote today so that you can make an impact on your country.
Carlos Sierra: “Severely” Independent. Country before Party. Former John McCain aide. Former Buddy Roemer National Campaign Manager. Anti-Sheriff Arpaio Committee Campaign Manager. President of Sierra Public Affairs and Partner of Renegade Public Affairs. Former CNN and POLITICO contributor. Co-Founder of The Reform Project. El Paso, Texas, Phoenix, Arizona.