“Your vote doesn’t matter”: A response

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Courtesy TeePublic

When your vote doesn’t directly decide the winner of the Presidential election, does your vote still matter?

Priscilla Terry, Staff Writer

A former classmate of mine once told me, “Your vote doesn’t even matter. It’s the Electoral College that ultimately chooses our president.” As a young student, I was taken aback. His statement had me pondering the accuracy of his words because I couldn’t outright deny them. 

I, and many other students, were just discovering politics and acquiring a keen interest in government for the first time. I hadn’t taken a political science course yet, and I was hoping my classmate was wrong. It’s a rather devastating realization that ‘we the people’ have no real influence on what happens in our democracy.

I drove home and went online to find as much information as I could about the electoral process in America. I wanted to see to what degree our votes do, or do not, matter toward the election of the president in a constitutional republic like the U.S. Here’s what I found:

The primary election

The people’s vote certainly matters in the primary election, when the constituents of the opposing party choose a candidate to run against the current president. 

If there isn’t a public majority vote for a candidate, then our votes don’t decide the nominee; the delegates choose on the behalf of the people. 

The Presidential election

During the Presidential election, the people have the opportunity to vote again. The popular vote impacts the election, but not directly. 

The Electoral College, created by the U.S. Constitution, can be explained in layman’s terms as a body of officials that meet every four years with the purpose of electing the president and vice president of the United States.

The number of electoral officials for each state depends on the state’s population. When the popular vote of a particular state is decided by the people, the electoral official votes that were cast for that running candidate or the President are counted. Electoral official votes that are not in congruence with the state’s majority vote are discounted, leaving fewer votes for that state’s contender. 

Although the officials are supposedly required to cast their vote in accordance with the public majority’s interests, it is not enforced by federal law and thus a state may have fewer votes cast for their candidate if one or more officials decide the current president is the best fit for the people. 

If there is no majority in the electoral college for one of the presidential candidates, then the House of Representatives cast the deciding vote.

So does your vote matter?

America is both a republic and a representative democracy. The people’s vote more strongly influences decisions at the local level, where voters have the chance to participate directly in democratic processes. When it comes to federal matters such as the presidential election, decisions are influenced more by the democratically elected representatives we have put in place. 

Your vote counts, but does it actually matter? That’s for you to decide. 

In the primary election, your vote matters if you belong to the party choosing a candidate to run against the president in office, like Democrats in 2020, or a party whose president’s term limit has been reached, like Democrats in 2016. 

During the presidential election, your vote matters if you are living in a swing state. 

Your vote matters in a state where you are a minority voter, as it is possible that a majority Democrat state could vote Republican, or vice versa. If this happened, then the minority votes cast in that state by electoral college officials would count in your favor. 

So should you vote during the 2020 Presidential election? Yes, absolutely!

This election is one of the most important of our lifetime. Whether you believe your vote matters, or whether you live in a swing state, getting involved in politics through your vote does more than just influence elections; your vote influences your direct community.

By choosing to get involved, you are one more person who cares about a cause. You are one more person who will show up and stand up for what you believe. Your vote represents another voice in your community, another voice to your friends who will hear you speak for a presidential candidate who you believe is doing right by your values and morals. This public discourse is what allows for change to ensue. 

Your vote influences your own growth. Question what you know and why you believe the things you believe. Be open to hearing others. You may find common ground with those whom you thought you did not agree. It is this kind of collective engagement in one’s community that ultimately paves the way toward the compromise of a brighter future.

That is why it’s so important to voice your thoughts while also listening to others who hold different ideas. Freedom of thought and expression represent the core of our democratic republic. Use it, and find empowerment through your vote this election year.