Americans are very proud of their freedoms and often very vocal when they feel those freedoms are being misused or threatened. However, one of the most outstanding privileges Americans have is being sadly neglected—the right to vote.
Though there was an overall increase in eligible population in the United States for the 2012 presidential election, only 57.5 percent of eligible Americans voted. Florida fared somewhat better. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, the state had 13,542,000 people in the voting age population. Of that number, 8,310,955 people voted, meaning 61.47 percent of those old enough to vote went to the polls.
It doesn’t take a genius to determine that a general feeling of “my vote doesn’t matter” is affecting too many people. The heated debates and general upturn in interest for the 2016 presidential election may indicate many people feel the need for change. Your vote can help achieve that change.
Sam Westbury, who lives in Astor, says he has several reasons for voting. “I want to keep my second amendment rights and get someone in office to do something for the people, not just the upper class. Voting is something everybody should do.”
For those who feel a single vote doesn’t matter, a quick study of some of the closest president elections might be in order. In 1796, John Adams beat Thomas Jefferson with only three votes. The total electoral tally was 71 to 68; majority vote: 138 to 70. In 1824, neither John Quincy Adams nor Andrew Jackson received a majority of electoral votes, which moved the decision to the House of Representatives. They removed the fourth candidate and then the House voted for the two men, with Adams coming out on top.
Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden truly experienced a squeaker in 1876. While Tilden won the popular vote, there were discrepancies in the electoral votes. Congress turned things over to the Electoral Commission, and they selected Hayes. The electoral tally is on record as 185 to 184.
“I do vote,” says Elizabeth from Wildwood. “It’s the only voice we have.”
Each American voice was important to former President Jimmy Carter, who narrowly defeated incumbent Gerald Ford. The popular vote was 40,830,763 to 39,147,793.
Leesburg resident, Tony Apicella, agrees. “To me it’s important because it’s the only input I have in the direction of government, small as it is. I don’t get involved too much in movements,” Tony says. “But voting is a way I can express my wishes.”
Whether you’re voting because of a single issue or just to ensure basic rights stay in place, your vote counts more than you might think it does. Consider for a moment about what would happen if the majority of the population decided one vote didn’t make a difference—America would be no longer led by the will of the people, but more by the will of a small, special-interest group.
Sondres Darigy has two nephews currently serving in the Marine Corps. Her brother is retired from the United States Army. Knowing who is leading the armed forces of the United States is very important to her.
“We need to know who’s really looking out for us, and I think the armed forces is very important. We need to know someone will help them,” Sondres says, “and voting keeps a special person in office who is looking after the world, not just talking.”
The government is a democracy only if citizens of the United States elect their leadership. It wasn’t that long ago that certain segments of the population weren’t even allowed to vote. George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Take advantage of your freedom and vote.