Those of us who are United States citizens know that it affords us many opportunities that may not be available to citizens of other countries, and while it may not be a perfect utopian society, the U.S. is quite possibly one of the few nations in the world that can boast such a high degree of personal freedom. This nation has been built on a foundation of hundreds of years of work and sacrifice. Its past may have been less than ideal in some circumstances—the pervasiveness of slavery until the Civil War, the Trail of Tears, and Japanese internment camps during the Second World War come to mind—and it goes to show that nations can be as fallible as the people that make up their populations, but we have always pushed forward.
None of what the United States has become could have been possible without the core tenet upon which it was founded—the idea that governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed, through proper representative bodies. Satisfaction with our government has been dwindling as of late; however, many Americans compare things such as head lice or traffic jams more favorably than Congress. This is also at a time when voter turnout, especially among the younger population, remains stagnant. Even though there is no scientifically-proven correlation between turnout and satisfaction, it stands to reason that an increase in voter representation during a time of national dissatisfaction may show representatives that citizens are serious about proper representation, whether it be at the city, county, state, or national level. In a time when lobbyists, special interest groups, and major corporations are pushing politicians for laws that are favorable for them, or loopholes to allow current practices to continue, it may be easy for politicians to lose sight of their constituency amongst the noise.
That is why, at least in my opinion, it is important to make every effort to vote. Casting the ballot is not an obligation, but rather, a privilege, and one that can have a major impact on the future of the nation. The promotion of increased voter turnout is equally as important. The inconvenience of having voting days on a weekday is something that should be remedied. After all, there is no reason to have voting days on Tuesdays any more—the practice that was created in 1845 so people would have time to go to the county office by horse and buggy, and make it back for market day on Wednesday. Some nations declare special holidays on voting days to promote turnout, while others hold voting days on weekends.
If one is not able to make it out to vote, or are out of town, state, or even country, one solution is simpler and doesn’t require a change of current laws—sign up for an absentee ballot. Many counties are able to process these either online or by phone nowadays, and it is an easy way to vote without even leaving the comfort of your own home/dorm/apartment.
The next election is next Tuesday, November 4. However, it may unfortunately be too late to register to vote for the election if you haven’t already. For those of you who have already registered and are getting vote-by-mail ballots, great! If you are a New York State resident, you can also go out to a polling station to vote, if you’re registered. If you’re not registered, please take this as a reminder—go and sign up as soon as possible. Taking part in the democratic process is something that not everyone can do, and is one of the ways to truly have an impact on the future!