Voting Matters, and Here’s Why
Article by AGF Vote Everywhere Ambassador MacKenzie Bills for The Simpsonian
When working on voter registration efforts at Simpson, I often find myself in the most interesting of conversations. I can honestly say I learn a lot about a person by registering them. I find out where they are from, Iowa or a different state? Why they decided to vote, to make their mom happy or because of a particular candidate. Perhaps because the student is receiving Wesley Service Hours, but the conversations that always get me are when my friends tell me they are not voting. For someone who dedicates herself to voter advocacy, this is devastating to hear. I always come to the conclusion, we may not agree, but we can respect each other. Then I realized, they probably feel the same about me and my incessant nagging about a system they do not believe in. So, I decided try and think about it from their perspective. Here are their arguments:
I am not going to make a difference, I am only a number.
Okay, there is some truth to this. In a presidential election, you are voting for a representative, the electorate, to place their vote on whom they choose. But, state elections are direct. The candidate wins by a majority. At state and local levels, each vote makes a greater impact as the number of voters dramatically decreases. This past year’s Mayor Race, only 818 people showed up to the polls out of Indianola precinct 1. A race with so few of voters could easily flip an election. It only takes 300 people to vote one way to flip an election one way or the other, an entire Simpson grade. So, are you a number? Yes, but your number counts. If we all did not vote because we thought we could not make a difference, then who is voting? How does one become elected?
I am not voting because I do not know who to vote for.
I get it; you do not see yourself as being political and do not want to take part in all the “politics of it”. I respect it. I respect acknowledgement of the fact that a student is ignorant of particular policies. It is okay, we all cannot know everything. If I was asked to take a test on chemistry, I would bluntly state my lack of expertise. I would not want to give an uneducated opinion. But, this is not the same. You are not taking a test; you are merely giving an opinion. The world is not going to die if you later decide you do not want a particular candidate you voted for. If being ignorant of issues is what is stopping you from voting, then take the five minutes to look up candidates. Get an absentee ballot so when filling out the ballot; you can look up every candidate and their past experience. There are a multiplicity of sites that define both candidates’ views on a wide variety of topics. Luckily for us, the United States has two major parties that candidates align with. I can assure you that it will not take long for anyone to determine which candidate’s viewpoint you agree with.
I do not like the political situation at the moment.
Is that not the point of elections, to make a change? The purpose of elections is to give accountability for our elected officials. If you do not like what is occurring in the government at the moment, vote for someone else. The government is the way it is because someone elected the government officials to their positions. The worst someone can do in hoping for change is to be apolitical and defiant. If you want change to occur, one needs to be the change and that change starts with using their right to vote. If everyone decided to be apolitical, less change would occur and thatis counterproductive.
All in all, I understand and respect these views, but to my personal opinion, the best decision a student can make is to vote in every election. As much as you might not think an election affects you, government impacts many parts of our lives and at some point, it will affect your career, family, and daily life. Don’t let it surprise you in the future, be aware now. #Vote2014
About the Author
MacKenzie Bills is a junior at Simpson College in Indianola, IA majoring in Political Science and International Relations with minors in Religion and French. President and founder of Simpson Votes, MacKenzie is passionate about civic engagement and voter education. She cares about people and wants to make sure the government does them justice. Interning for Representative Bruce Braley in DC for the summer as well as being selected as a virtual intern for the State Department has done nothing but ignite her will for working for the government. She cannot wait to represent the Andrew Goodman Foundation and engage students in government at all levels as well as grow and expand her leadership abilities.