Letter to the Editor: Why You Should Vote


Curtis Lin

People cast their votes during the Midterm Elections 2018 at the Salt Lake County Building in Salt Lake City, UT on Tuesday Oct. 23, 2018. (Photo by Curtis Lin | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Riel Desaulniers


Why is voting so important in America? There is a lot of history about voting in the U.S. and in many ways, it starts at our country’s origin. One of the biggest grievances that our founding fathers had was taxation without representation. Britain was placing higher taxes on us, and we didn’t have any way to refuse them. Because of this phenomenon, we fought a war in order to be able to gain a voice and let the people make their own decisions. We won that war and now we no longer have to live under the rule of tyrants.

We also have two historic anniversaries this year. It has been 150 years since African Americans gained the right to vote with the 15th Amendment and 100 years since women gained the right to vote with the 19th Amendment. When you think about it, that is not very long ago. Your grandparents likely knew someone who was alive during that time period. Many people have fought very hard for voting rights and relatively recently too. You should not let their effort go to waste, especially when people are actively trying to take away your ability to vote.

There are many forces at work that may be trying to inhibit the effectiveness of your vote and your ability to vote. A very important one that many Americans don’t know about is gerrymandering, which began in the U.S. as early as 1788. This system is when the majority party in a state legislature gets to redraw the boundaries of electoral districts every 10 years based on data from the U.S Census. The process is abused to contort districts so that the party ensures their candidates are assured of “safe seats,” where there is virtually no competition. A good example of this is in Utah. Salt Lake City, which is largely Democratic, is overwhelmed by the surrounding more Republican countryside in order to make sure each district leans more Republican. The disturbing part is that for Democrats to win these districts, they need to get even more votes than they would normally need to win.

Another force that is trying to prevent you from voting is the delegitimizing of mail-in ballots. Due to the pandemic, a large number of people — a good percentage of whom are Democrats — are going to vote by mail and there are several steps being taken to prevent them from voting. President Trump has, with not a shred of evidence, been calling these ballots illegitimate and prone to fraud, even though roughly one in four people voted by mail in the 2016 election. But a Republican election attorney, Benjamin Ginsberg, contradicted Trump in a recent op-ed in the Washington Post. “The lack of evidence renders these claims unsustainable,” Ginsberg wrote. “The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there’s no proof of widespread fraud… At most, there are isolated incidents—by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged.”

There have also been problems with the postal service recently with mail being delayed and sorting machines being disabled. Trump has even said he is trying to slow down the postal service to discourage voting by mail. The goal of all of this is to attempt to make people believe their votes don’t matter.

Many people say that they don’t vote because they don’t feel like their vote matters — I believe they are wrong. Trump won the 2016 election by less than 100,000 votes in three key states. We can also look back to the 2000 election where George Bush beat Al Gore by less than 1,000 votes in Florida. The point is that you don’t know whether your vote is going to matter until the votes are tallied. There are also other ways your vote can make a big difference, like state and local elections. Many people forget about local elections even though they can make a bigger difference in your day to day life than the national election and you have a larger impact on them. Many changes in our country often happen first at the state and local level. If there is a policy you are passionate about, looking for local politicians that support it is one of the best ways to make these policies more mainstream.

Your vote matters. People have fought and died to gain the right to vote, and if you feel a certain way about this election, then it is your duty to go out and fight for it at the voting booths.

— Riel Desaulniers, University of Utah Student

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