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Why Is Voting Important?

If watching the First Presidential Debate last week was not enough motivation to get you to vote...well I’m not sure what will be, but I’ll try my best to convince you. 

You should definitely read Lisa Green’s summary article on the debate if you want an awesome breakdown of the event. For those who did watch it, you know how the chaos of the debate is a direct reflection of the havoc wreaking on the world right now. Voting is every citizen's concrete way of changing this. Our democracy, though it seems currently flawed, allows us the opportunity to have a say in government, and as we’ve seen this year, policy decisions are life or death. 

 

That being said, voting has not always been accessible nor easy in this country. Women only won the fight battling the right to vote a century ago, despite The 14th Amendment (granting male citizens the right to vote) being enacted fifty years prior. African Americans still did not achieve this right until the 1965 Voting Rights Act which eliminated barriers set in place to deliberately block them from voting. If anything, exercising your right to vote is a means of thanking and honoring those who fought for you to even have the opportunity to go to the polls at all. Even today, voter suppression is real and active, including even seemingly minimal acts such as companies like Amazon and Home Depot not granting workers paid time off to vote; meaning those who cannot afford to lose pay do not get a chance to elect a candidate. Voting can be taken for granted and overlooked in today’s world, but it is important to understand and respect those who fought until their last breath for these freedoms, and learn the history that our country is built on.

 

For those still stuck in the mindset that their one vote does not make an impact, let me show you with some concrete facts of why it does. The results of the 2017 Virginia state legislative election was the difference of one vote. Just a single vote. The Virginia Supreme Court reviewed there to be one disputed ballot, certifying the race as a tie. To determine a winner, a “drawing of lots” was decided so that the candidate was literally determined by picking out of a hat. Yes, it’s statistically less likely to occur in a national election, but the point is that every vote matters.

 

If you for some reason still don’t find it important or don’t realize why you need to be involved, or at least knowledgeable, on political matters, then I urge you to check your privilege. People's lives are at stake because of the policies decisions of our current president, by the laws being debated in the courts, and by people who still don’t see how it has a larger effect than oneself. It is clear as day that neither of the candidates are perfect, however, not voting at all to “protest” the flawed system or options, is taking away the value of your vote. Tuning out to the politics and actions you can make right now, is letting the current administration win and slide by for another four years. Turn your anger into action; into votes. Take your protests to the ballot. The importance of voting lies not in the candidates and not in the individual, but the entire nation and fate of this country.

 

On the first Saturday Night Live back in person on October 3rd, Chris Rock quotes James Baldwin in saying "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it's faced". You cannot turn away with a blind eye from the upcoming election if you want to see change in this country. Make sure your friends, family, classmates, coworkers, acquaintances, are all registered to vote. There has never been a more dire time than now. 

Jenna Herzog

Lafayette '24

First year at Lafayette!
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