Why Voting Is Important

Voting is defined as a formal expression of one’s opinion or choice. This is a concept that United States citizens are familiar with, because it is used to elect high-ranking government officials, such as presidents, governors, mayors and judges. Each election day, millions of voters head to the polls to cast a vote for their favored political candidates. However, in 2008, only 63 percent of registered voters exercised their constitutional right, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Furthermore, only 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to register to vote are, in fact, registered. As a result, less than half of the American population participates in federal elections each year. By casting your vote in important elections, you are able to help choose leaders and government officials who will ultimately make important decisions that will impact the entire country. Voters can also help pass local referendums or initiatives, such as tax plans or education reforms that are important for the economic stance and future development of the country. Voting is a constitutional right and privilege held by all American citizens, yet only half choose to exercise it. To find out more about the importance of voting and how it impacts the country’s democracy, read the sections outlined below:

  • Voting creates a democracy that represents its people.
  • Voting helps improve communities.
  • The margin of victory is determined by voting.
  • Third-party voting can make a difference in elections.

Voting Creates a Democracy That Represents Its People

Democracy is a political system that elects and replaces government officials through federal elections. For a democracy to work, citizens must actively participate and exercise their civil right to vote. Higher voter turnouts will thus result in electing officials that stand for the same issues that most of the American population stands for. Throughout history, there has been a high percentage of unequal voter turnout. A higher rate of white Americans have consistently outvoted minorities such as African-Americans, Hispanics, young adults and people of low-income in U.S. elections. These low voter turnouts, particularly within minority communities, mean that millions of Americans are missing out on participating in the democratic system. Voting seriously affects the country’s social impact and the direction in which larger policies head toward. The more U.S. citizens cast their ballots during elections, the more representative democracy will become.

Voting Helps Improve Communities

Voting holds a greater power than just electing the next president. Citizens who vote can help make crucial decisions that can help improve communities in need throughout the country. Decisions that are made on Election Day include those that affect the education system. Voters in each state can help schools that are failing by allowing the state government to take over control of operations. Other factors that can be voted on include the expansion of alternative types of schools. Many communities have voted to open more charter schools within their communities in order to have more options, other than the public schools in their designated area. Voters are more likely to participate in their communities and devote their time to volunteer work. Other positive effects of voting include that those who vote are more likely to be politically informed and to take initiative to contact local community officials on important issues.

The Margin of Victory Is Determined by Voting

If you live in a state where the vote for a presidential candidate is not competitive whatsoever, you should still cast your ballot on Election Day. Your vote may affect a candidate’s presidential margin of victory negatively or positively. A mandate is the president’s authority to carry out a policy or course of action designated in his or her program. The electorate gives a mandate to a candidate or party that wins the election. However, if you cast your vote for the losing candidate, it will still limit the mandate the winning presidential candidate can claim once he or she is in office. If the difference in votes for the top two candidates is less than one percent or a fixed number, then election offices must perform a recount. 

Third-Party Voting Can Make a Difference in Elections

The U.S. political system primarily consists of two dominating political parties: the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Since the Democrats and the Republicans consume most of the attention in media coverage on election campaigns, many assume voting for a third-party candidate is a waste. Voting for a third-party candidate, regardless of their low chances of winning the election, can still make a difference in federal elections. Third parties in the U.S. often serve as pioneers for new initiatives and ideas for the further development of the country. Therefore, if a third-party candidate gains a significant amount of votes, the dominating political parties will take note and thus begin to implement some of his or her ideas into their own political agendas.