There is one thing (and probably only one thing) that we can all agree on tomorrow, November 6th. Whether you’re Republican or Democrat, right or left, center or forward, libertarian, green, purple, or a sparkly immortal vampire, we can all agree that everyone — and I mean everyone — has a responsibility to vote.
The United States has some of the lowest voter turnout rates of any established democracy — about 40% for midterms. And if you’re a Millennial? Well, then it’s even worse: we’ve got the lowest voter turnout of the adult generations — and yet we’re on track to be the largest voting group!
But to be the largest voting group, see, we have to actually vote.
There are all kinds of lame excuses people use to forgo voting:
It won’t make a difference.
I don’t care.
I have to work.
Well, let me tell you: it DOES make a difference, you SHOULD care, and take advantage of early voting! Get thee to the polls. Get an absentee ballot. There are options. And while we’re at it, if you’re in a position of power — help other people vote. Give your team time off, would you? Give a neighbor a ride to the polls. Babysit, or cover a shift if you already voted. Make snacks to share while you’re in line. We are all fighting on the same team here, and though we may not agree about everything, we all must acknowledge that democracy cannot function without active voter participation. Every vote matters, every ballot matters, every voice matters.
If we all vote, we all win.
Most of you reading this are probably women. Remember last year when women weren’t allowed to vote? How much did that suck, right?
Oh, wait, no, that wasn’t last year, that was 1918. The amendment granting suffrage was passed in 1919, and ratified in 1920. Which means women haven’t even had the right to vote for a full century yet — that’s how recent all this is. In the grand scheme of history, that’s less than a blink. Women spent decades fighting for the right to vote through protests, hunger strikes, jail time, and dedicated, passionate sacrifice. They fought for you. How can you possibly say your vote doesn’t matter?
In fact, did you know women’s suffrage came down to one single vote? After the amendment passed, they needed 36 states to approve it. The last state to approve it — the 36th state — was Tennessee. Tennessee’s vote was tied 48-48. And ratification then came down to One. Single. Vote.
That last vote was Rep. Harry T. Burn, a 23-year-old Republican who had been opposed to the amendment. But then his mother wrote to him to “be a good boy,” and vote to approve it.
And Harry’s momma must have raised him right, because that’s exactly what he did.
So don’t ever say your vote doesn’t matter. One single vote granted suffrage to half the adult population of the United States! Sure, not all votes carry that much weight every time — but you never know how your vote might just tip the scale. Each and every vote matters — so never waste or neglect yours.
Incredible women made incredible sacrifices to give you the right to vote less than a century ago. Their victory — and the final vote that sealed it — shows how great a difference one person can make. It shows how essential a right this is, and how precious a responsibility.
Honor those women by exercising the right they fought for.
Don’t make excuses.