The Thunderbeat

To vote or not to vote

Matt Hunter, Kinley Hamilton, and Kelli Smith

Nathan Hawkins, Reporter

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Turning 18 means freedom. You finish high school, you can win the lottery, and heck, you can get a fish from PetCo. But most importantly, you have the opportunity to do one of the most overlooked privileges in America: you can vote.

As long as you are at least 18 years old and are not in legal felony trouble, you have the right to vote. Of the approximately 242 million adults in America, 219 million are eligible to vote. But of those eligible citizens, only 146 million are registered to vote. The thing is, many registered voters don’t even end up voting. This could be for a multitude of reasons.

One reason could be because voting isn’t exactly fun. Leaving work to stand in line for an hour or two can’t possibly be the most exciting thing, and that could be part of the reason that voter turnout was down in 2012. To prevent this, however, there has been a sharp trend of early voting.

Early voting is allowed in 37 states, including Nebraska, and has seen a big increase in the past couple of presidential elections. Early voting gives people more of an incentive to vote, as not only can you vote from the convenience of your own home, but you can also become more informed about some of the people you didn’t know about by doing research. But even with that, America’s voting rate is below many other of the developed countries around the world. This is why if you can, you need to vote.

Even if you have other reasons not to vote, such as Nebraska being almost always Republican, there are other positions on the ballot to vote for where each in every vote matters. For example, in 2006, Todd Thomsen won the Oklahoma House of Representatives bid over Darrel Nemececk by two votes.

There have also been times in which the originally deemed loser of the election wins after a recount. Every single vote matters for every election in every single position. Even in the presidential election, a few votes can sway a difference. Just ask former president George W. Bush, who won Florida, and essentially the presidential election, by a statewide recount.

That’s why voting is a must for American citizens. Whether you support Republican Donald Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton, or neither of them, you must vote for your opinion of the lesser bad. Although it isn’t ideal, in one of the most controversial elections of all time, voting for the candidate you hate the least may just make the difference.

You could also go the unconventional route and vote for a third party candidate, such as Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. Although you may think that going third party is useless as the polls give them little to no chance to win any state, if they get at least 5% of the popular vote, the party in which they are running for will get public funding for the next election. Therefore, your vote could make a difference.

As an American citizen, your freedom is something that others only dream of. Part of that dream is voting. Voting shouldn’t be something that you dread, it should be something you look forward to as you are helping make America the country that it is, regardless of what anyone says. Through the whole election hype just remember this; voting isn’t a burden, it’s a privilege.

 

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