"There's no such thing as a vote that doesn't matter. It all matters."
- Barack Obama
Three levels of voting: local, state, federal
Many people often consider voting to only be a federal process that occurs every 4 years in November. Due to this misconception, many citizens often forget about local and state elections, but they are very important as well in creating change. Local and state elections are often used for passing key taxes and local ordinances and determining policy in any area, and do not always go as one would expect. They are also often determined by smaller margins than national elections, making individual participation more important.
Significance of local-level elections:
Allows for policies such as antidiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ individuals in conservative states.
Local government has a large stake in school quality.
Significance of state-level elections:
In conservative states such as Missouri and Oklahoma, referendums favoring the legalization of medical marijuana have passed.
As recently as 2018, Democrats have won gubernatorial elections in strong Trump states such as Kansas, and Republicans have won gubernatorial elections in strong Clinton states such as Massachusetts.
Does 1 vote really matter?
Of course! Voting is how citizens make their voices heard. While some voters may feel like their vote is meaningless, consider the following example:
A local primary election in North Las Vegas was decided by who drew a better card because both candidates got the same number of votes!
In a June 2020 referendum in Oklahoma, a Medicaid expansion (a fundamental aspect of Obama Care) was passed by Oklahoma voters by a margin of 6,518 votes (0.96%), which was an average of 3.35 votes per precinct.
Our message: Your vote matters. You are not statistically insignificant. Not only do you need to vote, but you also need to convince others to vote as well.
Is there any other reason to vote?
On top of the statistical significance of voting, it is also an important way to exercise your rights in a democratic society such as the United States. Not only are there billions in the world who cannot bring any change because of their lack of a right to vote, but there are also millions of Americans who are ineligible to vote due to their age, immigration status, criminal record, etc. You need to make sure to not only vote for yourself but also for those who do not have the choice to get their voices heard!
How often does the youth vote?
It is quite unfortunate that voters aged 18 to 24 generally do not turn out to vote. In every election since 1972, there has never been a majority of voters aged 18 to 24 that have turned out to vote, with their best year being 2008 where 44% voted.
Why should the youth vote?
A common theme among the youth’s reaction to voting is that their vote does not matter and that they simply do not have the time. This is particularly unfortunate since young people have shown a great interest in politics. It is also young people who have been most impacted by the economic recession in 2008 and are currently being most impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020. Young people are more diverse than ever, which will be essential for making everyone’s voices heard. Voter apathy is not an option, especially in these tumultuous times.
Important Election Dates
Tuesday November 3rd - national election day
Presidential election between Trump and Biden, US Senate elections in several states, and gubernatorial elections in several states.
To look up your state primary election dates, go here.
Youth Healthcare Advocacy
A very sad reality is that many young people decide not to vote simply because they do not know HOW to vote.
Spend just 2 minutes of your day to register to vote. You can make such a difference by casting your vote on the ballot!
Other tools to help you vote:
Check whether you are registered to vote: https://www.rockthevote.org/resources/am-i-registered-to-vote/
Check ID requirements in your state: https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-id.aspx.
Check the voter registration age requirement for your state: https://www.usa.gov/voter-registration-age-requirement (For some states, you can pre-register to vote as soon as you are 16!)
Due to this unprecedented time, there may be updates on the voting process within your state. For instance, certain states like California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington are mailing ballots to all voters. So make sure to check the status of your elections: https://www.vote.org/covid-19/
Find your polling place according to state: https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/
Get a reminder to vote: https://www.vote.org/election-reminders/
How do you vote if you are moving away for college?
If you are moving out of your home state, it is your choice whether you’d prefer to vote in your home state or the state where you are attending college. If you want to vote for candidates in your home state, you must request an absentee ballot (the next paragraph will have instructions on how to do that) and mail it back to your home state. If you want to vote in the state where you are attending college, you can register to vote in that state. For your address, you must use the physical address of your dorm. A P.O. box is not acceptable.
How does the absentee ballot work?
First, fill out your biographical information through this website: https://www.vote.org/absentee-ballot/. You will choose whether you want your absentee ballot mailed to your home address or another address. Select the one that you believe will be most appropriate. Then, select your county of residence and you will receive a form via email. Fill out the form and mail it to the provided address. Upon receiving your ballot, fill out the ballot and mail it to your local election authority. For absentee ballot deadlines and additional information, visit https://www.vote.org/absentee-ballot-deadlines/.