One of the most common reasons for not voting is due to a lack of interest, stemming from the idea that your vote does not count.
Though not a national popular vote in its pure form, the electoral college absolutely depends on your vote. Before going into why your voice should be heard, you must recognize that your voice will be heard.
Breaking Down the Electoral College
Each state has a number of electors equivalent to their total voting membership in congress.
Together, this makes up 538, of which half is 270—a number you’ve probably heard a lot of during election season. To win the presidency, a candidate must win more than 270 votes.
When you cast your ballot, you are voting for the electors who have pledged to vote for the candidate you check off. Electors who have pledged to the candidate who wins the statewide popular vote become electors for the state.
In this sense, electors are bound to voting for the popular vote of their state. If Jeb Bush wins your state’s popular vote by 51%, he will win all your state’s elector votes. This is where the term “winner-takes-all” comes from.
Two states are an exception: Maine and Nebraska. These states assign an elector to each congressional district so that the popular vote of each district is individually represented. They then assign the last two electors to the candidate with the state’s overall popular vote.
You could say each state has its own election. Because each state has a different number of electors depending on their population, the states have varying influence on the outcome of the election. Your vote matters because your state matters.
Some argue that their state doesn’t matter because it has a small population. In fact, this is where the electoral college system actually protects the influence of smaller states. In close elections, the electoral votes from small states can make all the difference. If we elected the president through a strictly national popular vote, the voices of these small states would be less relevant to the election and thus to the candidates’ campaigns.
For example, considering Wyoming’s population of 584,153 and the U.S. population of 318.9 million, even if Wyoming’s entire population was registered to vote, this state would count for around 0.18% of the national popular vote.
However, in the electoral college, Wyoming’s vote counts for around 0.56% compared to a much larger state like Texas who holds around 7% of the electoral college. Following the electoral college system, politicians cannot ignore small states’ electoral votes—in other words, their values—because, in a close election, they make or break a candidate’s success.
Millennials Have Something to Say
The closer your age to obtaining social security or benefiting from medicare, the more likely you will make the trip to the ballot box. It’s no surprise that those who could be more immediately affected by a change in Washington are more engaged in elections.
However, in direct response to this article’s title, the Y Generation faces issues just as dire as social security.
Smothering student debts, environmental catastrophes around every corner and unemployment are problems to be placed on our shoulders after the baby-boomers have had their fair share of tax breaks and medicare.
While recent Republican debates circulate around Donald Trump’s insensitive behavior and policies like abortion rights, the country is in a devastating state of affairs.
Washington has lost the war on drugs and, consequently, our millennial peers are suffering.
The U.S.A. holds the highest incarceration rate in the world and deaths from heroin overdoses have increased five-fold since 2001. What’s more, millions of American citizens (many of whom are disproportionately black or hispanic) are then denied their right to vote due to felony disenfranchisement laws. For those millennials who do not struggle with restrictive voting laws, it is our civic responsibility to tackle these issues. This begins with voting.
In regard to the rising voting restrictions, numerous non-profit organizations have taken the initiative to increase voter turnout. Rock the Vote, a non-partisan, non-profit organization, aims to increase youth voter turnout and will help you to overcome any hurdles in your way for voting.
In order to turn attention to questions that concern millennials and our children, the Y generation must prove itself an influential demographic in the polls.
Above all, do not forget to form your own opinions! Read, listen, question and read some more. Happy voting!