“Why should I vote?” is a question that gets asked numerous times at every election. This year alone has revealed apathy and unbelief to be strong, especially in millennial voters. Deciding a candidate, when the running theme seems to be we’d be choosing between the lesser of two evils, hasn’t been easy. But no matter the circumstances, we encourage the students of Tech to vote in this year’s election. Why?
The United States was founded by men who decided to break away from ideals they didn’t agree with. Upon denying oppression and finding new land, their land, they created the United States of America and upheld democracy and the ability for their voice to be heard as supreme. Equality, individuality and independence are also rooted in the founding of the United States of America. This reason alone should inspire a person to vote because that person voices what they want to be heard: equality, individuality and independence.
And we can see the country wrestle with this sense of newfound independence.Graphics produced by the website Metrocosm show that for almost 100 years, the country itself had states voting for parties from Southern Democrat to Whig to Federalist. While the names (and ideals the party supported) may differ, the platforms that were refined into the two most recognized parties, what’s known today as the Democrats and the Republicans, really didn’t find their footing until 1864.
In other words, what states that did make up the country at this time weren’t consistently voting within these two parties until 1864. And it isn’t until 1960 that we see the entire United States participate in presidential elections. That means the whole United States has made their voice for change in only 14 elections. It’s obvious change takes time, but it also takes votes.
But the whole country voting wouldn’t have been possible if the people that made up that country weren’t taking measures into their own hands and fighting for their right to vote.
An example of this is the 19th amendment, which provided men and women with equal voting rights. Another example is the 15th amendment, which guaranteed African Americans the right to vote. Arguably the most powerful example, for college aged students, is the 26th amendment, which changed the voting age to 18 from 21.
Amendments 11 through 27 were also added as time changed and people fought for their rights. In fact, rights to vote were the most added amendments (this includes amendments 15, 19, 26). And the reason is change — voices were being heard through voting over time and people were fighting for equality and independence. We can see our country, and its people, wrestling with things like equality and independence, all the while trying to find their voice in the midst of a country that has been primarily divided between two dominant parties since the early 1900s.
That struggle, though, is arguably indicative of what’s going on in our country today, and should be all the inspiration needed to utilize your voice in this year’s election. Because you aren’t just voting for a presidential candidate; you’re changing the course of the future of the United States of America