Why Vote?

Contact: Cam Savage

By Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita

We have all heard people mention the depressing and fundamentally incorrect phrase, "My vote doesn't matter," as an excuse for not voting.
Voters in Kokomo, Vincennes, and every other Indiana city and town holding elections this year should know better.
In last May's Democratic primary election for mayor in Kokomo, more than 2700 hundred people went to the polls to choose their party's nominee. After the ballots were counted and recounted, the election ended in a tie.
Four years ago in the general election, a city council race in Vincennes was decided by just one vote.
In the 2002 general election in Indiana, a mere 38 percent of voters across the state exercised the right to vote. Turnout is generally higher in Presidential election years, as evidenced by Indiana's 55 percent turnout in 2000.
This year, turnout is expected to be even lower than in 2002. In most places only candidates for mayor, city-clerk, or city or town council will be on the ballot. Because the number of eligible voters is smaller in municipal elections, these races are sometimes decided by only a few votes.
But if personally affecting the outcome of an election is not a good enough reason for you to vote, I suggest another one: civic duty.
More than two hundred years ago in Boston, a group of citizens marched down to the pier, boarded ships, and began dumping the ships' cargo into the harbor. The key development that incited this patriotic mob was a tax placed on tea by the British Parliament. By today's standards the tax was relatively small, but what so infuriated the colonists was that it had been levied on them by a Parliament in which they had no representation. The colonists were denied the opportunity to select or reject any of the people who made the decisions that affected them.
Unfortunately, the American Revolution was not the end of the struggle for suffrage in this country. Not until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 did all Americans truly have the right to vote. The struggle for suffrage in this country was long and hard. It was not until 1920 that women nationally were guaranteed the right to vote with passage of the 19th Amendment. Despite the 15th Amendment's guarantee that "the right to vote shall not be denied or abridged.on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude," African-Americans in some parts of this country were effectively denied their voting rights until the 1960s.
It is hard to imagine what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony, or the instigators of the Boston Tea Party would think of 38 percent turnout. Throughout our history, men and women have fought at home and abroad, and in some cases have given their lives, for the right to vote. Voting is so much more than simply choosing who will serve on the town council for the next four years; it is the opportunity to exercise a priceless freedom that many who came before us, and many others around the globe, will never know.