Having a small amount of people determining the future of a whole country is why diversity in voting is so important. Diversity allows the country to be represented more fairly, with candidates expressing ideas on more issues, while having more voices decide the fate of the United States.
In the last U.S. presidential race, 54 percent of registered voters in Arkansas voted. That means that 46 percent did not voice their opinion or help determine the victors for this state. Of that 54 percent, most were either white or African American, aged 45-64 and male. That’s a small part of the population determining the future for the whole state and in reflection the whole country.
“Be encouraged by the fact that you can and have the right to vote,” said Dr. MarTeze Hammonds, associate dean for the Department of Diversity & Inclusion. “Be encouraged about the fact that although you may not see the vote, though you feel like the vote doesn’t count; it does. We have to allow the system to play out.”
Change for all people comes with time (which shows why we all must vote), but the underrepresented vote needs more voices if it is to be heard by politicians and lawmakers. Minorities cannot create change if they don’t vote minorities in, that is minorities who will represent their communities effectively.
The Civil War amendments, 13 to 15, ended slavery and allowed people of all races to vote in the U.S. If there were not lawmakers in place to create these amendments in 1865, or voters to vote on these amendments, would we be the nation we are now? This is why we vote. If minorities want issues of race and equality to be faced, they must vote in politicians who think the same about the same ideals.
The 19th amendment gave women the right to vote in 1920, but since then women have never reached the 50 plus percent mark to show equal voting representation to men according to the Pew Research Center. Men have always had a larger percentage of the votes; that is why male dominated issues have had laws and changes take place. If women want women’s issues to be faced they must vote for politicians who want to face this.
“More and more change will come,” Dr. Hammonds said, “Often times we just need to plant the seed and water it and then other folks behind us will enjoy the shade.”
In 1971, the 26 amendment was passed and allowed 18 year olds to vote. This allowed a younger people to have their voices and ideas on how to shape the future of our country heard. This group, 18- 29 year olds, is the smallest percentage-voting group, with 16 percent voting in the last election. This 16 percent is of those registered to vote and this age group has the smallest number of registered voters, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.
“It does not take a majority to prevail … but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men,” said Samuel Adams, a man who helped formulate resistance to the Stamp Act, played a vital role in organizing the Boston Tea Party and the second cousin of U.S. President John Adams.
The forefathers planted the seed and it seems that we are all not enjoying the shade yet. Find your shade, plant new seeds and vote, because having a small amount of people determining the future of a whole country is why diversity in voting is so important. Diversity allows voices of all avenues to be heard and allows for a better representation of what the country is made up of. To have a group’s voice heard, that group must vote and an underrepresented voice has no ground on which to stand.