The average American has no idea about the power a vote holds. Especially when you get a few like minded people together to vote. When I speak to many people especially those who are in their 20’s they express to me that they don’t feel that their vote makes a difference. Kind of like the song they are “Waiting on the world to Change” however what they don’t realize is you can’t wait for someone else to do the changing. It is up to you to make that change happen and the world is shaped by those who show up at the polls on Election Day and vote.
Commenting on your favorite blog or newspaper site doesn’t count in the long run. Telling your friends at the BBQ what you feel can have impact on what others think, yet it makes no change and therefore doesn’t matter unless you vote. Voting is the power. Even if your side of the Election issue or politician of choice loses you still win. Because your vote made an impact, you made your opinion count.
Another thing that citizens don’t usually realize is that voting matters when contacting your elected officials. You see the political parties have databases and those databases let them know who votes. The information doesn’t show how you voted per say though that information is captured in more general terms. For example there is information about who won a legislative district in an election, it isn’t broken down to show how each person voted. When you call or write an elected official and they see that you have voted in every election, even special elections, they are much more likely to hold your opinion with more weight than that of an unregistered voter.
Many people find it difficult to get to the polls on Election Day though in America it is a law and a right that employees must be given up to 3 hours if necessary to vote many do not use the opportunity. A popular voting trend in many places is to be placed on the Permanent Early Ballot list. Contact your local voting offices to find out if this option is available in your area. An Early Ballot allows a voter to vote at home and mail it in, which many find to be more convenient especially for special elections that can be difficult to keep track of.
In my next blog I will go into more detail about the Tools of Civic Engagement.