The following Encounter provides facts and tips on voting in the US.
It is not just the presidential race on the ballot, and the presidential election cycle isn’t the only time it’s important to vote. There are federal, state, and local races to vote in. There is a midterm election halfway through each presidential term (two years in).
Many communities--including women and people of color--have fought hard to secure the right to vote for themselves and future generations, and people are still fighting against voter suppression/intimidation. Taking advantage of the right to vote is one way to honor this legacy and continue the work.
U.S. voter turnout trails most developed countries. “U.S. turnout in the 2012 presidential election was 53.6%, based on 129.1 million votes cast and an estimated voting-age population of just under 241 million people.” Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million as of 2015, yet in the past have been notorious for low voter turnout.
In many states, you can take time off from work to vote.
Early voting gives you more flexibility in terms of which polling place you visit to vote and the lines are usually very short.
You get a sticker and can brag about it on social media. #ivoted
Elected officials make decisions that directly affect YOU--particularly state and local officials. They also make decisions that don’t affect you but may affect other communities in negative or positive ways. It’s up to us to stand up for each other.
Voter engagement is one strategy of many to effect change. It’s not the only way, but it is one important way.
Millions of Americans are excluded from our democratic process on the basis of criminal disenfranchisement laws. These laws strip voting rights from people with past criminal convictions — and they vary widely between states. If you are able, you should vote because these laws need to be changed (see number 7).