Why Vote?

Plato quote - image courtesy of aiga.org/vote

Image courtesy of aiga.org/vote

By Matte Kane, Union Representative


If you don’t vote …. you have failed as a citizen.

The ability to vote allows citizens to voice their opinion and choice on a variety of issues. In the American political system, voting allows registered citizens to cast their choice for the political leader that they believe can accurately make the choices that will better the country. However, there are millions of individuals who have the ability to vote, and yet do not. Over 100 million eligible voters opted not vote in the 2016 elections. Keep in mind that previous Americans literally died to preserve your privilege to vote.

Plato noted in his masterwork The Republic:

“One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” 


Voting trends

As I sat down to write this, I decided I needed to know why we are “where we are” as a nation, and it became clear that our voting trends need to change. No longer can we except the “I was too busy today to vote,” or the “I don’t bother voting, because my vote doesn’t change anything” mindset. Here are a few quick facts heading into the 2018 midterms:

  1. The Millennial generation accounts for one-third of the electorate.
  2. Less than 50 percent of eligible young voters ages 18 to 29 cast a vote in 2016.
  3. 19 percent of all votes cast in 2016 came from young voters.
  4. In 2016, 4 percent more young women voted than young men.
  5. Young voters are more likely to support issues such as legalizing same-sex marriage, supporting a pathway to citizenship for immigrants and legalizing abortion than other age demographics.
  6. 40 percent of millennials identify as non-white, making them the most diverse voting generation in history.
  7. In most communities, the turnout for voting is less than 50 percent.
  8. Last but not least: every vote does matter. There have been several cases in U.S. history where this has been seen. A New Hampshire Senate race was decided by two votes out of 223,363 in 1974. A Massachusetts gubernatorial election was decided by two votes out of 102,066 in 1839. And the Alaskan congressional race was decided by a single vote out of 10,035 cast in 2008. Just this past November, the Virginia House of Delegates election in the 94th district (Newport News) ended in a dead tie, and in an even stranger twist the winner of the electoral tie by Virginia State law, was chosen by lots. The two candidates names were placed in a bowl and one name was drawn from the bowl and declared the winner.

In all, voting is a constitutional right and privilege that Americans have. It’s best to make use of that right instead of squandering it and disregarding what our founders set forth to ensure.  The demographics speak volumes: young voters have a legitimate stake in the outcome of mid term elections, and here in New Jersey that begins with our state primaries on Tuesday June 5th.

As members of an increasingly under-represented Labor Movement in this country, showing up and doing your job has never been more important to our cause. Please vote. Don’t take our privilege for granted, there’s too much at risk. Our strength is our numbers, we will not be silenced.

If you are not a registered voter, have recently moved, or have changed your name, please visit our Register to Vote page to learn how you can register today.


 Want to read more articles by Union Representative Matte Kane? Click here.