The Future Depends on your vote
With a dangerous pandemic wreaking havoc across the world, it seems only fitting to call November 3, 2020 one of the most important days in American history. In the past couple years alone, the economy has been driven into the ground, unemployment rates have risen to rates comparable to the Great Recession of 2008, and almost 26 major retailers -- JC Penney, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, among others -- have filed for bankruptcy in the last nine months alone.
To top it all off, 2020 is an election year, which presents Americans with an important choice: do we want a new president to deal with these unprecedented problems for the next four years or do we want to continue with the same president who has struggled to reduce the impacts of this virus at all? Whatever your decision may be, the important thing to understand is that with the power to cast a ballot, you will be voicing your opinions on the national stage.
why should i care?
We, as the youth, are wasting our power to a ballot. We are refusing to uphold our civil duties as American citizens and we are denying our right to make sure our voices are heard. How can a government function when only 3 in 10 kids (aged 18-29) are coming out to vote? For a world superpower that prides itself over free elections and democracy, it is completely unacceptable to have such low VTR. But we can fix that problem.
DON'T ENOUGH PEOPLE VOTE ALREADY?
Nope. According to the Pew Research Center, only about 64% of the U.S. voting age population was registered in 2016 and only 56% of them actually voted in the election. These voter turnout rates (VTR) put the United States behind most of the other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, most of whom as other highly democratic nations. Unfortunately, of all the different age demographics, the group that has the lowest VTR is the youth: of all the people eligible to vote from 18-29 years old, only 32% of them actually voted in the 2016 election - a slight decrease
from the 2008 general election. Every single other age group managed to rake up more votes than Generation Z and Millennials. Many researchers even proclaim that if even a little bit more college students voted in the last election, the outcome could have been entirely different.
UNDERSTANDING THE VOTING PROCESS
What is the Electoral College?
At its core, the Electoral College is the system we use to elect the next president of the United States. Each state is given a certain number of "electors" based on the population of the state. This means that big states like California, Texas, and New York have more electors than states like Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming, where the population is much smaller. In fact, California has the most number of electors at 55, while Wyoming, Alaska, and North Dakota have a minimum of 3. Put together, there are 538 electors in total.
A candidate wins the presidency if he or she can get the majority number of votes: 270 or more electoral votes.
The system revolves around a "winner-takes-all" policy. What that means is that if a candidate wins 50.1% of the popular vote in Florida, for instance, then that candidate would be awarded ALL of those electors in Florida. Only two states -- Maine and Nebraska -- divide up their electoral votes based on the proportion of votes in the state.
One important thing to understand is that through an electoral system, it is possible for a candidate to lose the popular vote, but win the presidency. In fact, 5 presidents in our entire nation's history have won the presidency despite losing the popular vote: John Quincy Adams (6th POTUS), Rutherford B. Hayes (19th POTUS), Benjamin Harrison (23 POTUS), George W. Bush (43rd POTUS), and, most recently, Donald Trump (45th POTUS).
How Can we change for 2020?
First off, VOTE. Vote like your life depends on it, because technically it does. Your vote could be the deciding factor for the next president of the United States (as cliché as that sounds).
If you don't know to pre-register to vote, please click the button below to access your state's voting registration website.