Tuesday, Oct 9 is the last day to register to vote online in the state of Ohio. This week’s column is to inform you of the benefits and importance of registering to vote and exercising your vote in upcoming elections.
Voting is a process that gives citizens a chance to change the way federal and national governments are operating. Voting is crucial in activating the democratic process of our government. Further, voting is a fundamental right as a US citizen, and with so many of our rights arguably being questioned and/or taken away to some degree in today’s government, exercising the rights that continually go unquestioned gives more power to the people.
Many who are registered to vote argue that their vote doesn’t matter among the thousands that do vote. But, think about how many people say that. Imagine if all of those who said that their vote doesn’t matter actually voted. Because that’s such a popular opinion, it would make a huge difference in an election.
Also, I think many registered voters and American citizens in general are under the impression that a majority of the country participates in voting. But, that is not the case. In 1888, nearly 80 percent of registered voters were recorded voting, an all-time-high for voter participation. Since then, percentages of registered voters who actually vote has dropped drastically. In the most recent 2016 Presidential election, only 55 percent of registered voters cast their ballots on election day, according to PBS.
This low number turnout could be a result of a bystander effect. Meaning that those who don’t vote all assume that someone else is taking the responsibility to do so and, as a result, no one votes because everyone assumes that their vote doesn’t matter because so many other people vote. 55 percent is not everyone. Your vote matters.
To further motivate you to get out and vote, the 18 to 24-year-old age group is the age group with the lowest voting turnout, about 20 percent lower than the rest of the age groups according to the US Census Bureau. That’s our age group. That’s us.
Over the past several years, the millennial age group has made a huge impact on the political world. After the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, Emma Gonzales, a student there, spoke at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale and led a massive group in the March For Our Lives march in D.C this past March.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Kaitlin Bennett, also known as the “Kent State gun girl,” has organized gun rallies at Kent State University and has gained mass attention on Twitter in her efforts to popularize open-carry laws as well as other conservative ideologies.
At the end of the day, you don’t have to organize rallies or march in Washington D.C. to make a difference and be heard. Your vote on election day has just as much of an impact, if not even more.