Why Voting MattersPosted on: October 12, 2018, by : Jeff Turner
By Jeff Turner
The midterm elections take place on Tuesday November 6th, and early voting has already commenced here in Indiana. There are even satellite locations available for Hoosier voters this election cycle. Voter participation in midterms is typically abysmal. Indiana ranked dead last (14%) in voter turnout during the 2014 midterms. A great many people take voting for granted, or don’t think it matters at all. As cliché as it sounds, it really does, especially during this election cycle. Control of the Senate may be decided by the race between incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly and Republican Mike Braun here in Indiana, which is expected to be very close no matter who emerges the victor.
But a look at previous elections gives an even clearer picture of the importance of voting. Five hundred and thirty-seven votes in the key swing state of Florida gave George W. Bush the presidency in the 2000 election, which isn’t that many at all. Of course there are those that believe that was a stolen election, which it may well have been. But that’s beside the point.
There’s another, more recent, example I feel the need to cite. In 2017 there was a Virginia House race that was almost decided by a single vote. According to USA Today and other media sources, Shelly Simonds initially held a one vote advantage over GOP incumbent David Yancy for Virginia House District 94. But a judge ultimately rejected one ballot, which led to a tie. A drawing was held, both candidates’ names written on slips of paper in a ceramic bowl. Yancy’s name was drawn and, as a result, he held onto his seat. Had Simonds won, Democrats in Virginia would have had a 50-50 majority in the House of Delegates, since the Governor of the state is a Democrat. Instead, Republicans in Virginia maintain a 51-49 majority.
That race alone should signify the importance of a single vote. Regardless of whether you like the candidates or not, voting is a constitutionally guaranteed right. Elections have consequences. And many of those on the left who stayed at home instead of voting for Hillary Clinton are starting to see that firsthand with the Trump Administration, most recently with the confirmation of the President’s Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh. Voting is not all that time consuming a process, and there is the option of absentee voting should one be unable to vote on Election Day.
As for why voting is so important to me, well, it was kind of instilled in me at an early age. I have a white father and a black mother, and there was a time, as recently as fifty years ago, where half of my family wouldn’t have been guaranteed the right to vote. There was actually one time I was wanting to sit out a primary election. My Mom’s reaction was saying to me “Did you know people died so you could have the right to vote?” I’ve voted in every election ever since.
It’s actually quite disturbing how even young people of color aren’t exercising their right to vote. I tried registering voters at this year’s Black Expo, and many black youths I encountered expressed to me that they just weren’t interested in voting. Talk to older African-Americans however, they vote regularly. My Granddad, in his 90’s, even made a point to cast a vote for Barack Obama both times he was on the ballot. Seniors are the demographic who vote in the greatest numbers, mainly white seniors (who tend to vote Republican). If more millennials regularly exercised their right to vote, they’d truly be a force to be reckoned with. It will be interesting to see here in Indiana and around the country what voter turnout is for this midterm election cycle, and whether millennials are more politically engaged.
Elections are more than the people on the top of the ticket. State and local races are also decided, ones that have a more direct impact on our lives. School boards, trustees, auditors, etc. All of these are elected positions. So, do your civic duty. Don’t sit at home. There are a great many people who have been watching what’s going on in the political arena and not liked what they’ve seen. President Obama said it best: “Don’t boo, vote!”