By Rozana Beluts
SAN DIEGO, CA – On Monday, after an April Supreme Court ruling that “extended the deadline for the receipt of mailed ballots from November 3 (Election Day) to November 9, provided that the ballots are postmarked on or before November 3,” US Supreme Court ruled Wisconsin voter absentee ballots would no longer be counted if not received before 8pm on Election Day. With only 7 days left until Election Day, it is critical that you vote and vote urgently.
The power to vote and participate in elections is a fundamental right and one of the key freedoms of democracy. Nevertheless, there are many countries around the world that have yet to grant their citizens this basic freedom, Eritrea being one of these countries who has never held a presidential election. In fact, the only national election ever held in Eritrea was the referendum of 1993, in which Eritreans unanimously voted for Eritrea’s sovereignty. Historically, even in the US, women and African Americans were unqualified to vote and many have died fighting to obtain this right. In the present day, all US citizens 18 years or older, apart from some felons, are eligible to vote in elections. In the year 2000, a total of 193.4 million people in the US were eligible to vote, and by 2018 this had increased by 40.3 million to 233.7 million. However, despite this high number of eligible voters, many choose not to exercise this right.
American political scientist Larry J. Sabato notably said, “every election is determined by those who show up.” To the people feeling discouraged to vote, your vote may not directly elect the president, but if your vote joins enough voters in your voting district or county, your vote undoubtedly matters when it comes to electoral results.
Here are some facts to consider: In 2000, Al Gore closely lost the Electoral College vote to George W. Bush. The election came down to a recount in Florida, where Bush won the popular vote by a very small margin that it called for an automatic recount and a Supreme Court case (Bush v. Gore). Following the recount, Bush won Florida by only 0.009 percent of the votes cast in the state, or 537 votes. Had 600 more people voted in support of Al Gore in Florida, he may have been elected president.
According to data from Bipartisan Policy Center, voter turnout was only 54.9% in 2012 and 55.5% in 2016, which means only a little over half of all eligible voters voted. Increasing voter turnout means better representation. Voting is not simply about electing a candidate, it is actively choosing the right policies and leaders who have your best interests in mind when making decisions that will impact your community, state, and nation. When you vote, you are taking an essential role in deciding issues involving immigration, healthcare, equal opportunity, social security, infrastructure, jobs, education, neighborhood safety, taxes, and more.
The year 2020 has undoubtedly been an unorthodox year as we continue to face a global pandemic, wildfires, social injustice, all in the midst of an election. There has never been a more important time than now to stand up for what you believe. So take a few moments of your day to go vote. Election day is right around the corner, cast your vote or be outvoted.
Check out https://www.vote.org/ for important information on voter registration, poll locations, voting procedures, and more.