Approximately 100 million people could not be bothered to vote in the 2016 Presidential Election, according to a study by the Washington Post. 100 million possible determinants of change; 100 million possible voices. Gone.
The 2016 Presidential Election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was one of the, if not the most, controversial elections in American history. It involved immense mudslinging and lead to such vehement partisanship that the country basically split in two. In the 2016 election, a vote became a stance, a declaration of what values the individual represented in the present and what they would support in the future. And some chose not to take a stance at all.
The importance of voting in American Democracy cannot be emphasized enough and is the best way for citizen’s voices to be heard on a national level. It is a right that has been fought for by the downtrodden and oppressed for centuries, and it is seen as the key to a just and democratic system.
So why did 100 million people choose not to exercise this important right in an election people felt so passionately about? Why just let the political machine roll without trying to alter it? While there are countless factors to why a person would not vote, the major reasons seem to be centered around the individual not caring, or disliking both the candidates.
These excuses are not good enough.
Every citizen SHOULD vote in and care about elections. They affect every single person in the country. The people that are put in office are elected to make legislation, organize and allocate tax dollars, and run the country. All are areas that citizens heavily debate and show unending passion towards. So in not taking enough time to vote, one is essentially refusing to care about these issues and refusing to have a voice in them.
The claim that “the candidates are both bad so voting is pointless” is also ignorant. Even though the candidates in a given election may not be someone’s first choice, or represent every belief they hold, it is never worth forsaking the right to vote. There are always third party candidates, and even though the prospect of voting for them is usually met with scoffs, voting for a party, no matter its status or traction, is still better than not going to the polls at all. Be the first vote and start a movement, and do not always think that elections are limited to just two candidates.
So to all eligible voters, go out and exercise that precious right. The November Midterm elections are approaching, and the whole House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate is up for reelection. Many people have expressed how badly they want Congress to shift, but this can only be achieved through citizen action. It doesn’t matter if it’s a citizen in San Leandro, California, or in Gainesville, Florida: anyone’s vote can shape the political stage, and anyone’s vote can bring about change.