Up Next in 2020: The Presidential Election

December 19, 2019

Every four years in America, something incredible happens – more than leap year, more than the World Cup, even more than the Olympics. The US presidential election, the day that American citizens are free to exercise their most valued right – voting – is inherently what the nation’s liberties are built upon. While it may not be the most ideal system, having two primary parties run against each other every four years promotes a sense of unity and pursuit of common ground on specific issues that not all Americans may agree on. With the upcoming presidential election fast approaching on November 3rd, 2020, having all of the polar politics surrounding the media can be hard to make sense of everything. 

Being able to vote for a desired leader to guide the country, or essentially the role of a republic, has kept the American spirit alive through even the toughest decades. Having a voice in electing both local and federal leaders is a principle that sets America apart from much of the world, and many people from other countries envy us for our ability to directly elect leaders. America is primarily a free country, and voting is an important aspect of that freedom. Unlike other countries where dictators and monarchs make decisions on behalf of the people, Americans get the right to decide who runs the government and what laws should govern the citizens. But even though voting is an important privilege, many Americans don’t vote.

Many American citizens don’t vote because they think their vote doesn’t count, or has little influence in the election. This is a common belief that people use to reason whether they cast a vote or not; that ultimately the Electoral College will decide who becomes president. But in reality, the popular vote in each state determines which candidate the Electoral College endorses for that state.

According to the Federal Archives, the Electoral College is not a place, but a process that consists of the selection of electors, the meeting of the electors where they vote for President and Vice President, and the counting of the electoral votes by Congress. The Electoral College consists of 538 electors, and a majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Every state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for the Senators. 

Voting is not a natural right for everyone in the world, and even in America it can be seen as a privilege. Just as driving holds a significant importance in our lives, rules of the road must be followed in order to obtain legal driving status. Voting is no different; what can be earned can be taken away if the user fails to maintain the guidelines. It is surprising to see that despite America being one of the few countries to allow open democracy, not everyone eligible to vote goes to the polls. In fact, during the 2016 presidential election only about 54.7% of able-voters cast their vote. What is the reason for this low turnout?

While some people simply feel their vote doesn’t count, others feel that their vote is just being wasted. Many non-voters argue that the political candidates running don’t represent their beliefs or causes the best, so by casting a vote for someone they don’t agree with is counter-intuitive to the concept of voting itself; individual representation.

I had the opportunity to speak with social studies teacher Mrs.Tokasz about some aspects about the elections, and when asked if it is a citizen’s civic duty to vote, she responded with “Absolutely!  We live in a democratic society… in a republic, it is essential for educated citizens to elect officials to represent their views and concerns in government.  Without voting, citizens are voiceless members of society. It is within the nation’s and individual’s best interests to go to the polls and make a direct choice for a best-fit candidate, as choosing not to vote is still a conscious decision.”

Whether you are Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative, Right or Left, we are all Americans with the same natural rights as each other; voting being one of the many aspects shared among us. It is our civil duty as citizens to use our voices at the polls and elect a leader who we confidently feel will progress the country. That is what voting is and will always be- a civil race between politics and the acceptance of differences to promote unity. 

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