It took almost 150 years to get to the point where all of us eighteen and older have the right to vote. And yet, going back to 1828, usually around 60 percent of those eligible actually vote. Since 1972, that number has fallen to closer to 55 percent or less, with the exception of 2008. Even that year, we didn’t quite hit six out of ten eligible folks voting.
What’s up with this? Why don’t we vote? So many people have fought for the rights of men who didn’t own property, former slaves, Native Americans, and women to vote. And yet, if we break the 60 percent threshold for tomorrow’s election, that would probably be labeled a high turn out.
Granted, it could be easier to vote. Some states don’t allow early voting and others have voter identification requirements that make it more challenging for poor and elderly folks without drivers’ licenses or photo identification to vote. I still find it hard to believe that these measures, as unfair as they are, account for the 40 percent who stay home.
I have long thought that holding elections on a Tuesday, when most people have to work, makes no sense. Why can’t we vote over a weekend? Other traditions about who can vote have evolved. Just not this one.
I’m going to go out on a limb and list the reasons I have heard people give for not voting. Of course, this is a totally unscientific list and I’m sure 538 and Nate Silver would have a better one. But here’s what I hear:
- My candidate didn’t win the party’s nomination, so I’m going to protest.
- I really don’t like either candidate.
- My one vote doesn’t matter.
- If I vote, I will be called for jury duty and there is no way I can miss work or find childcare.
- I don’t have the time to wait if there is a line.
I have never missed an election, not even a local one for school board. I treasure my right to have a say in who will represent me, even if it’s in a losing cause. My parents voted in every election up to the day they died, and so will I.
Especially this year, the 2016 election is not one to sit out. There is so much at stake. Anyone who reads my blog knows I support Hillary. But I’m not asking you whom you support or trying to convince you to choose my candidate. Today, I’m just telling you to find a way to vote tomorrow if you haven’t already done so.
Even if it’s inconvenient, even if you are choosing based on which candidate you dislike less, your vote does matter.
P.S. In case you want to know my opinion, check out Hillary Clinton and The Smart Girl in the Room, Voting: The Time I Threw my Vote Away and Other Tales from a Faithful Voter, Bullying: Setting Kids on Fire, Creepy Clowns, Locker Room Talk and Other Hated-Filled Acts, Trump Son’s Advice to Women: “Go Teach Kindergarten”, and A “Nasty Woman” Responds.