In the 2016 elections, nearly 43 percent of eligible voters did not exercise their right to vote, according to the Washington Post. Of the 232 million eligible voters, only 132 million voters cast a ballot in the 2016 elections. There are many reasons why people do not vote, including not believing their voices are heard, long lines and other barriers at the poll or simply forgetting to even show up on election day. Some argue there is no point in participating. However, there are several reasons why people should take the time to vote in elections.
Officials Know Who Votes Elected officials pay attention to who is taking the time to cast a vote. They see trends in different areas and populations that consistently vote and those who do not. If one community shows up in smaller numbers than another, politicians will pay less attention to them. They will not spend as much time hearing the interests of those people or appealing to them to gain votes. Instead, politicians will campaign for the causes, priorities and interests of those they can count on to go to the polls. Though the candidate a person votes for does not always win, the one who does or future candidates will hear those voices and concerns and use them to establish new policy.
Voting Is a Privilege Voting is a right and privilege that many Americans take for granted. Immigrants and relatives of families from other parts of the world have seen and experienced firsthand what it is like to be governed by leaders who were not elected by the people. They know what it is like to have laws and policies enacted that do not reflect the desires and needs of the people. Being able to participate in an election and be part of the process in choosing the next leaders and representatives is a privilege that should never be taken lightly.
Voices Are Heard Some people think they are not being heard. Perhaps the person they voted for did not win the last election so they are not feeling enthusiastic about participating in the next one. Many people are deterred by the Electoral College system in which a smaller group of electors casts votes that reflect the popular vote for their states. However, because some states have more electoral votes than others, it is entirely possible for a president to win an election without winning the popular vote. In this case, one could argue that people's voices are not heard. Throughout history, only five out of the 45 American presidents have won the election in this manner, as noted by ThoughtCo. That shows that, more often than not, the people's voices are being heard.
Other Issues on the Ballot Voting for the next U.S. president or senator is not the only reason to cast a ballot. Many local elections and issues are voted on during election day as well. Even those who do not wish to vote for president should participate to make their voices heard on these local matters. For example, states may vote on issues such as increasing taxes to fund schools or hot-button issues like same-sex marriage and recreational marijuana. Staying home means not having a say in these matters.Learn more about Elections