For most of our country’s history, people have fought for the right to vote regardless of sex, race or ethnicity. And yet, despite the hard-won battles, the majority of Americans do not regularly exercise their right to vote.
58% of Americans voted in the 2012 Presidential election, and only 42% voted in 2014 midterm elections.
The Electoral College process, candidate rhetoric and antics, influence of money in politics, and a general feeling of apathy can make many Americans feel like their vote simply doesn’t matter.
Your voice does matter, and here are a few reasons to vote:
- All 435 seats of the US House of Representatives and 34 of the 100 US Senate seats are up for election in November. Those elected will have the power to pass—or block—legislation on issues like dismemberment abortion and federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
- With the election of Congressional members, the US House will likely remain Republican but the Senate could be controlled by Democrats. The degree to which the President’s political party has control over Congress often determines his or her political strength, including the ability to pass sponsored legislation and have Cabinet members and judges approved.
- The next President may nominate up to 4 US Supreme Court Justices. Confirmation of a new Justice requires 60 votes in the Senate. Once appointed, justices serve a life term. (Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away in February, served for just shy of 40 years.) US Supreme Court Justices have the power to uphold or strike down state laws related to issues like euthanasia and abortion.
- State officials and referendums will also be on ballots in November. Hot issues in 2016 include physician-assisted suicide and abortions done by video conferencing. And the state officials elected in 2016 will drive—or block—legislation on emerging issues, as well as influence how and where state funds are spent.
- Local efforts can have the greatest impact on peoples’ lives. City governments decide zoning issues, affecting whether you live down the street from a church or an abortion facility. Levies and issues related to schools and use of your tax dollars can have a surprising impact on your family. Plus, with fewer voters on local candidates and issues, your vote truly can make a difference!
Be sure to research the candidates and issues on your ballot carefully. What you learn may give you even more reasons to vote in the upcoming election.
It’s important to vote, and even more important to make an informed decision.