Is there something you would like to change in your community? Voting is one of the ways you can make those changes. Your vote is your voice in the governing leadership of your country, state, county, and city. Elections affect who represents you in government. You have representatives in national, state, and local government.
The U.S. president, vice president, and elected members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives govern our country. Your state governor and elected members of the state Senate and House of Representatives govern your state. Elected county board members provide leadership in your county. A mayor and city council members are elected to represent you on city issues.
Your vote is also your voice at your local public school. School board members are elected by your vote. If you have concerns about school issues, read about the school board candidates in your local newspaper before the election. Vote for those you feel would make a difference on issues you are concerned about.
Elections affect how public money gets spent. In 2019, Marshall, MN residents voted yes to a raise in their property taxes for local public school improvements. Elections affect what laws are passed. In 1996, residents of the state of California voted to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The right to an equal vote for every citizen is one of the basic values of the United States. We each have one vote. Many people, however, choose not to use their voting power. Less than 50% of Americans vote in most elections.
Why do some people choose to vote and others do not? People may vote to make a change, to support a candidate, and to have a say. Reasons people may not vote are that he or she does not know how to vote, does not understand the ballot, does not think voting makes a difference, or may not be a citizen.
If you do not know how to vote or do not understand the ballot, help is available. You can ask a teacher, job counselor, or city clerk for help with how to vote. At your polling place, you can ask for help to read and mark the ballot. If you make a mistake on the ballot, you can get a new one.
History tells us that every vote does count. In 1845, one vote brought Texas into the Union. In 1960, one vote per precinct elected John F. Kennedy president. In 1977, the mayor of Ann Arbor, Michigan (a city of over 100,000 people) was elected by one vote.
Over the past one hundred years, women, people of color, and 18 – 21-year-olds have all won the right to vote. Any adult citizen who is not in prison or on parole for a felony can vote. Exercise your right to vote! Let your voice be heard!