Turn out for what? Cast your vote

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 61.9 percent of eligible voters cast their votes in the 2012 presidential election. You may think, “Wow, that’s over half the population. We’re doing pretty good, right?”


Despite our claim to be the greatest democracy on earth, the United States has a terrible track record for voter participation. In the last 60 years, the highest U.S. voter turnout was 65 percent in the 1976 general election.

That’s abysmal in comparison to other countries with established democracies, such as Austria, Sweden and Italy, where voter turnout rates average 80 percent. In countries where voting is mandatory, around 90 percent of the population votes on election day.

Clearly, we have some catching up to do, especially considering that our voter participation averages drop below 50 percent during non-presidential elections.

The voting situation in the U.S. gets even worse when you break it down by race and age. In 2012, nearly three-fourths of the votes were cast by whites. That same year, approximately 55 percent of voters were age 35 or older, compared to only 22 percent of people under 34.

Our government is supposed to represent the views of the people, but right now it’s disproportionately representing the views of middle-aged white citizens.

Though our community can’t easily address issues like gerrymandering, voter registration laws and early-voting policies that unfairly diminish the votes of lower class and minorities citizens, we can still work to make our voices heard.

We can register to vote, and encourage our friends to do the same.

We can research the different candidates, and develop informed opinions about the kinds of policies they support.

We can carpool to the polls not just every four years, but for every election.

We can email and call our representatives to ensure they know the policies we support, and the ones we passionately oppose.

And to those of you who say, “My vote won’t make a difference,” we say, “You’re wrong.”

In a country where, on average, half the population can’t or doesn’t vote, every new vote adds another voice to the conversation about the policies and laws of our future.

Every new vote brings us closer to being a truly representative democracy.

Every vote matters.