Eight reasons why you should vote if you can

When you’re debating whether to trek to the nearest polling station on any given election day, remember these tidbits

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As I walked out of my apartment building this past Tuesday on Election Day, I was slapped in the face with 42-degree winds and a heavy mist. It was one of those days where you have to force yourself to go to class over the temptation of hibernating in your bedroom and watching Netflix all day. Being that I barely wanted to go to class, the prospect of hiking all the way up to Venable School in the freezing rain to cast my vote was unthinkable. I told myself, “There’s always next year.”

But as I sat through my first class, I felt a stitch of guilt. Yes, the people that sit by the amphitheater nagging “Have you registered to vote?” everyday are incredibly annoying, but the principle of what they’re doing is right. Here are the eight reasons I came up with to convince myself to venture to the polls that dreary Tuesday afternoon —

1) Not everyone can do it. 

As of 2016, only about 200 million people that live within the bounds of the United States are eligible to vote. Undocumented persons, every resident of Puerto Rico and that international student from Dubai in your Calculus class are all subject to the laws and regulations of the U.S. but cannot vote in any election. It’s kind of special that you can do it by just registering online or somewhere on Grounds.

2) People fought for years to earn the right. 

So many marginalized groups throughout our nation’s history have battled for the right to vote through protests and civil rights movements. Women weren’t allowed to vote until 97 years ago, and they still wouldn’t be able to today if it weren’t for the thousands of people who bravely partook in the women’s suffrage movement. The 15th and 19th Amendments were annexed for a reason — we should take advantage of them if we can.

3) It’s kind of our duty. 

I take back “kind of” — it’s actually our civic duty as Americans to provide our input into how our government is run by voting for elected officials. It’s one of the easiest ways that we can have a direct impact on our administration. And why wouldn’t we want to? Our ancestors fought the Brits hundreds of years ago to gain representation in exchange for subjection to outrageous taxes. We are always going to have to pay ridiculous taxes, so we might as well cash in on our end of the bargain.

4) Your vote can actually be a deciding factor. 

The cliché “Your vote counts!” is freely thrown around during election time with usually no stats to back it up. However, this year’s Virginia gubernatorial election results prove a fraction of citizens’ votes could have swung the election in either way — Ralph Northam (D) beat Ed Gillespie (R) by a marginal 8.9 percent. While the difference was still a few hundred thousand votes, the results could have easily been different if more or less people showed up to the polls.

5) The results affect you. 

Many people only vote every four years when the presidential election occurs and neglect those middle years because they feel that the candidates are less important. However, the candidates running for Charlottesville City Council and state legislature directly affect the laws that regulate our local governments. In turn, these changes affect our daily lives much more directly than the sweeping structural changes that are made in Washington, D.C.

6) You have a better chance of being satisfied with the results. 

Many Americans who were unhappy with the results of the 2016 presidential election were the citizens who chose not to vote. The resounding excuse was, “I don’t like either candidate so I just won’t vote at all.” Unfortunately, because of the way our democracy works, it is necessary to choose the lesser of two evils in any given election, whoever that may be. So, if you hit the polls rather than sitting an election out, there’s a better chance that the results will be in your favor.

7) There are many interesting, new candidates. 

Since the 2016 presidential election, a lot of regular citizens that were disgruntled with the result decided to take action and run for public office. In the spirit of enacting change through real action, many candidates are non-career politicians who want to hold a position simply to better their local governments and country.

8) Chain reaction increases voter turnout. 

If you go out to the polls, it usually encourages — or guilts — those around you into doing the same. This chain reaction can increase voter turnout exponentially.

If you’re thinking about staying home on the next Election Day, remember that there are more reasons to take 30 minutes out of your day to cast a vote than there are reasons not to — even when the weather is really bad. 

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