On Tuesday, America will visit the ballot box and decide who they want to be in the White House for the next four years. Well, that is, the part of America that didn’t vote by mail, or at early-voting sites.
But there’s another part of America we have to take into consideration as well. And it’s the part that’s always brought up every single election — those who didn’t vote.
Nearly 129 million ballots were cast in the 2016 presidential election, so “how could my vote matter?” one might ask. And it’s a good question: One vote will likely make no difference in a contest decided by tens of millions.
Except it’s not just one lost vote. It’s not hundreds, or even thousands. It’s millions. Tens of millions.
The U.S. Elections Project estimates there are more than 250 million people eligible to vote in the United States. That means in 2016, as Washington Post reporter Christopher Ingraham so eloquently stated just days after Donald Trump claimed victory — “about 100 million people couldn’t be bothered to vote.”
Yet, it’s not overall numbers we need to be focused on here. Trump likes to talk about his “landslide” victory in the Electoral College, but you have to look deeper than his 304-227 victory.
Trump won Michigan by just 10,000 votes — out of 4.8 million cast.
Trump won Wisconsin by 22,700 votes — out of 3 million cast.
Those two states alone were 26 electoral votes. That would not have been enough to win Hillary Clinton the presidency, but it would have brought her extraordinarily close.
The sad part? She was expected to win those two states. Polling had even shown as much — but polling is based on a certain number of people casting ballots. If those ballots aren’t cast, then there’s no telling what might happen in the end.
We know what you’re saying — “This is New York. Hillary won this state by 1.7 million votes. Surely, whether we vote or not doesn’t matter.”
But it does. The simple fact that you’re still going to the polls, even though you really don’t have to, makes a big statement to friends and family who live in states like Michigan and Wisconsin. If they see it’s important to you where the victor is obvious even before the election starts, then it should be important to them.
Once the election is over, however, we can’t file away our voter registration cards for four years. This has to be the beginning of a habit to vote in every and all elections.
New York seemingly has a special election of some sort every several months. Machine politicians love them because no one turns out, and they can push their candidates through.
Don’t let that happen. Become addicted to voting, and do it every time. Your democracy depends on it.