The 2016 presidential election (along with the presidential elections of 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000) may have been a wake-up call to registered voters and nonvoters alike. In each one of these elections, the winner of the popular vote lost. However, out of the total 58 presidential elections in US history, that there were five times that the popular vote recipient was not the victor should be screaming something: voting is crucial.
Unfortunately, midterm elections usually have a much lower voter turnout than presidential elections. The 2018 midterms had an estimated 114 million voters, as compared to 83 million in 2014 and 91 million in 2010. In fact, even the 2016 presidential elections, at 138 million ballots, had only 24 million more than the 2018 midterms. When compared to the population above voting age though, the average voter turnout comes to be only about 60%, and only 40% during midterms.
According to NPR, non-voters are more likely to be “lower income and less educated”. A Pew Research Center study on the demographics of the 2016 election showed that more than half of all non-voters had an annual family income of under $30,000. Other non-voters believe that the outcomes of elections are predetermined, regardless of whatever their ballot says. However despite a state’s previous political leanings, “some of the states that had the highest turnout were places where the margin of victory was less than five percent” (Khalid, NPR). Some are discouraged by the electoral college, while still others think that “money and big business determine the winner more than people’s votes” (Khalid, NPR). With so much of the US population going underrepresented in politics for these very reasons, it may be easy to fall into the belief that change is obstinate. However, studies by The Pew Research Center as well as The Election Project show a steady increase in voter turnout from all ethnicities as well as all socioeconomic classes.
Votes clearly add up, though. Senior Mary Spaeth says that “as a first time voter, [she feels] very lucky to be able to have a say in our government” and Isabella Houchens ‘19 believes that “voting is important, especially for those of us who live in Ohio since it’s a swing state.” She continues, “We vote for the people that will make the changes we want while they are in office, so if we want change, we have to vote.” Only with this growing representation, whether it is of different age groups, ethnicities, socioeconomic classes, or otherwise, will the US become an accurate and equal democracy.