Editor in Chief
As we watched the results feed stalled out no one in the room could believe the results. A special election where over 20,000 voters voted, where over $1 million had been spent, where hundreds of volunteers went out to knock on doors during a 2014 polar vortex had come down to 9 votes (a week long election canvas later finalized the official results at a 7 vote difference.)
Following the statewide elections in Virginia the control of the Virginia State Senate rested on the results of two special elections to fill seats vacated by newly elected Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, the latter was forced into a recount after the difference between the two major party candidates was 900 in a 2 million voter election.) The first of those two special elections was won by Lynwood Lewis by 7 votes, which later earned him the nickname “Landslide Lynwood Lewis” from some of his colleagues in the statehouse.
Now, you may be wondering why a 3-year-old special election in Virginia is at all relevant in a college newspaper in the Finger Lakes region of New York that prides itself on presenting local news. It is relevant because American politics is full of stories like this one. Stories where the margin of victory is almost impossibly small given the number of voters. These stories point out one thing that many Americans forget.
The right to vote is powerful.
It is powerful because we are governed by the people we choose, even if it does not seem that way at times (especially with the conflict between the popular vote and the electoral college in the presidential election.)
Despite the power of the right to vote American turnout rates hover around 50%, but in some cases can be much lower. The control of the Virginia Senate in those two special elections was decided by races that both had around 20% turnout.
That means in most elections the majority of eligible voters decide not to vote. The majority of Americans are willing to sit back and complacently accept whoever the minority that votes decides. Now there are completely valid reasons to not vote like systematic the disenfranchising of voters, which does exist. However most of the people who don’t vote fall into three general camps: those who choose to not vote, those who forget to vote, and those who are unaware of when elections are. All of which are unacceptable if you want to have a productive government working for the people.
At the end of the day it is nonsense that people are leaving their future, their healthcare, their education, their livelihood to whoever can convince as low as 10% of the population that they are better than the other guy.
You can easily be the person or one of the 7 people who decide the future of your city, state, country all you have to do is vote.
“But Dan it isn’t even Election Day what can I do today?” Take a second and make a plan to vote or more importantly remind yourself to vote. If you live in Geneva set a reminder on your phone for a time on Tuesday when you can go in to vote in the local election, and figure out a plan for how you are going to do it. If you are not registered in Geneva (like the majority of HWS students) set a reminder on your phone for September 14, 2018 at 8:21 p.m. (or something like that) to remind yourself to get an absentee ballot, so you don’t find yourself realizing when it is too late that you won’t be home to vote.
Take a step further and make some fun plans for Election Day, so you can treat yo’self like Tom Haverford as a reward for being a good citizen and remembering to vote. Make a big deal out of Election Day, it’s my favorite holiday by the way, remind your friends to vote and make sure that we as a country do not fall into the hole of not voting.
Or you can just let all the people like me, who vote, continue to control who is in the government. In democracy you get the government that you deserve, and with the failing score we are getting on turnout right now we deserve a government that has lower approval ratings than those Saga breakfast potatoes that are somehow always both undercooked and overcooked without any part that is correctly cooked. Don’t sit back and accept the confused Saga potato of government, vote and get the Steak Night of government.