Why you need to vote

Hari Sreeramagiri

Whenever the word “voting” emerges in conversations, people tend to assume it’s about politics. Responses like “I’m not a very political person” are common.

What these people don’t know is that voting has less to do with political affiliations and more to do with what the act of voting symbolizes for our future. By placing power in the hands of the people, it gives citizens the autonomy to make decisions about the candidates that best represent their needs and interests. Here are three reasons why you should vote in the elections.

1. You should have voted

If you’re afraid your vote will get lost in a sea of ballots, remember the closest polls in U.S. history. In 2000, the poll between then Texas Governor George W. Bush and former Vice President Al Gore came down to a recount in Florida, where Bush won the popular vote by 537 votes. According to National Geographic, “had 600 more pro-Gore voters gone to the polls in Florida that November, there may have been an entirely different president from 2000-2008.”A Portland University study showed that fewer than 15% of eligible voters turn out to vote in local and national elections. If students voted in local and national elections alike, they could help raise this number.

2. Unequal representation

A study conducted by the University of San Diego titled “The Vote Matters: Race, Turnout and Representation in City Politics,” suggests that black Americans turnout in municipal elections at a rate 8 points lower than white Americans, with Latinx 39 points lower and Asians 36 points lower. A similar gap is shown between low income and high income Americans. Due to unequal turnout, our election system fails to reflect the diversity of viewpoints and silences the voices of many marginalized communities.

3. Privilege is not an excuse

To live in a country where the people hold the power to decide their future is a privilege in itself, and an opportunity many can only dream of. But every year, along with all the young people who work to stay informed and politically aware, there is a part of the population that continues to be apathetic. As youngsters who live in one of the wealthiest cities in the nation, we should utilize our privilege for positive change rather than letting the Irvine bubble crowd out our empathy for the world around us. Just because the impacts of the election might not directly impact some of us does not mean that we should remain ignorant of other impacts.

Young people have gained a bad reputation for being out of the American political system. In the age of information, it is easier than ever to vote, and young people especially should have no issue finding the confidence to cast their ballots. If you are a student who is old enough vote in the next elections, the impact you have is greater than you can imagine.