The semester is in full swing, the seasons are changing, and like your first prelim, Election Day is coming up sooner than you think. We’ve seen a ton of hype and history being made in this election already, inspiring interest in even the least politically inclined. All this excitement has been leading up to November 8th, when one thing matters most: your vote.
Voting should be a given, but the reality is that for most people, it isn’t. Here are a few reasons some might have for not voting, and why they’re wrong.
“My vote doesn’t matter because I live in a blue or red state”
Some states such as New York or Texas almost always vote the same, so many people think their single vote doesn’t matter. However, there are numerous states in this election–including those not typically considered swing states–where the polls don’t yet show a clear consensus. Your vote also matters a lot for congressional and local elections. If Senate and House seats are up for reelection in your state, your vote is going towards deciding which party has control of Congress. By voting for your local politicians, your voice can be heard on a more personal level.
“I don’t like any of the candidates”
Don’t worry, they probably aren’t a fan of you either. It’s understandable to be upset that your candidate of choice didn’t make it to the general election, but unless you are really going to follow through on your vow to move to Canada, you should still vote. The reality is that no presidential candidate will ever be perfect. Do some soul searching about your political beliefs and try to choose the best candidate out of the current options. Sure, not voting will relieve you of any responsibility for electing the President, but it will also take away your complaining rights.
“Whoever is leading in the polls is obviously going to win”
Not necessarily true. The ‘polls’ vary depending on what news source you’re looking at because each source calculates percentages differently in creating a model or reporting survey results. For example, FiveThirtyEight’s model currently projects Clinton has a 51.5% chance of winning over Trump’s 48.5%. But a recent New York Times/CBS poll shows Clinton only has 46% of projected votes from likely voters while Trump has a close 44%. What do all these numbers mean? Which ones are accurate? The answers to those questions are complicated, but the point is simple–you shouldn’t get too comfortable when your candidate is “in the lead.” Polling doesn’t mean voting, so don’t rely on everyone else to vote for you.
“Voting’s not a big deal”
Has it been that long since you took a course in American history? Having the right to vote is a very big deal — many subsets of the country’s population have fought throughout history to see voting laws change. This election, Hillary Clinton made history as the first female presidential nominee of a major party, something the suffragettes probably never thought would take place.
You may not realize it, but we are lucky to have the right to vote at our age. The voting age was 21 until 1970, when 18-20 year olds were finally trusted with the right, but many young people today still fail to use it. According to CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement), voter turnout rates for 18-29 year olds have been close to or less than 50% in the four most recent presidential elections, even though support from young people is something candidates rely on heavily. Now is the time more than ever that we can make our voices heard.
“Voting is such a hassle”
It could be as easy as filling out some info online and mailing in your ballot. Seriously, you might not even have to leave your house. If you live in New York State, you first need to register to vote if you haven’t already. You can then either change your address so you can vote in Ithaca, or request that an absentee ballot be mailed to you. For out-of-state students, check out https://vote.usa.gov for information on how to register and vote in your state. You can also reach out to political organizations on campus such as the Cornell Democrats or Republicans for more information. The deadline in many states for registering to vote in the General Election is in early October, so get moving!
Your vote matters in many ways–morally, politically, historically. Remember: voting is a right we are lucky to have. It’s an essential part of the democratic process and our duty as Americans. Take the small amount of effort and time to do something big for your country, and for yourself.