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5 stories to tell people when they say their vote doesn't matter.

You've got to be in the booth where it happens.

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Aspen Institute

This November, tens of thousands of the country’s most important jobs are up for grabs.

How? Through our general elections!

It's the most wonderful time of every two or four years!

Beyond the famous ones like president, senator, House representative, and governor, there are tens of thousands of positions up for grabs — everything from seats in state legislatures to judgeships to school board commissioners. In some places, even the coroner and the dogcatcher are elected.


Like it or not, the work these elected officials will do over the next two to four years will affect every part of American life in small and sometimes really dramatic ways.

The President's refusal to address America's snack bowl crisis will go down as one of his greatest failures.

‌Citizens' right to select the people for these jobs is the basis of democracy.

For some nations, voting is what they’re fighting and dying for. When they get it, they turn up in BIG numbers.

When Iraqis earned the right to vote in 2005, 80% of the population turned out to cast ballots. Compared to them, America’s voting record is, to put it gently, less impressive.

Despite being the "greatest democracy in the world," less than 60% of eligible Americans cast a ballot every four years (it's even lower in midterm elections). At the most, 62% of eligible Americans have voted (in 1960) in a presidential election; at the least, 49% voted (in 1996).

Lots of research has gone into figuring out why people don’t vote. One of the most common reasons is also the most wrong: that an individual vote doesn’t matter.

After Steve decided he wasn't going to vote anymore, his face froze like this. FOREVER. Image via iStock.

There are moments throughout American history where big elections were decided by absolutely tiny margins.

1. In 1960, 63% of eligible Americans voted in the presidential race between Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard Nixon. JFK eked out a win by only 119,450 votes nationwide — 0.17% of the popular vote.

2. In 2000, only 51.2% of eligible American voters cast ballots for Republican George W. Bush, Democrat Al Gore, and Independent Ralph Nader. In the end, Bush became president by only five electoral votes after losing the popular vote by less than 1%. In the three Florida counties where the election was decided, Bush’s margin was even smaller: only 537 votes. Think about that: In 2000, the number of people whose votes decided the president could fit inside a large passenger airplane.

“But-but-but,” some might say, “my state/district always votes one way and I vote another. My vote doesn’t make a difference.”

If you’re an independent voter in a deeply red or blue state, it can feel pretty hopeless watching your presidential candidate struggle to make an electoral impact.

That said, the big flashy races aren’t the only ones on the ballot. Because not everyone takes the time to vote in every single race and for every measure on their ballot, the votes that are cast in these lesser races are even more important.

3. Democrat Marcus Morton knew a little about close races. In 1839, he won the race to become governor of Massachusetts by just one vote, earning the charmingly ironic nickname "Landslide" (yes, really). Then there’s Charles B. Smith. In 1910, he beat De Alva S. Alexander for a U.S. House seat from New York by a single vote.

4. In 1994, the race for a seat in Wyoming’s House of Representatives got as close as possible when Randall Luthi and Larry Call received the same number of votes. Even after a recount, the vote totals were the same: 1,941. In true Wyoming fashion, the race was settled in a gentlemanly way — with Luthi winning the seat after a pingpong ball with his name on it was pulled out of Gov. Mike Sullivan’s cowboy hat.

For all of these candidates, those few votes — the ones cast and the ones that weren’t — made all the difference.

Even when elected officials start doing their job, their votes on behalf of their constituents make a big difference, too.

5. Take, for example, the vote for a national health care system. After decades of failed attempts to develop a winning bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, passed the House by just seven votes. That’s 16.4 million more people who have health insurance, ultimately because of seven votes.

‌A future voter — or even a candidate. Image via iStock. ‌

Democracy is the only system we have. Changing how it works in the future means being a part of it now.

Democracy only works when people show up. So yes, voting matters—sometimes a little, sometimes a whole lot. You can sit back and believe your vote doesn’t count (thus ensuring that it never will). Or you can get in the game and use the power you have now to make a better, more representative future. Which will you choose?

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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via Pexels

A couple celebrates while packing their home.

One of the topics that we like to highlight on Upworthy is people who are redefining what it means to be in a relationship. Recently, we’ve shared the stories of platonic life partners, moms who work together as part of a “mommune” and a polyamorous family with four equally-committed parents.

A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and producer Brad Falchuk, and photographer Annie Leibovitz and activist Susan Sontag are all high-profile couples who’ve embraced the LAT lifestyle.

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Family

Professional tidier Marie Kondo says she's 'kind of given up' after having three kids

Hearing Kondo say, 'My home is messy,' is sparking joy for moms everywhere.

Marie Kondo playing with her daughters.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up," has repeatedly made huge waves around the world since it came out in 2010. From eliminating anything that didn't "spark joy" from your house to folding clothes into tiny rectangles and storing them vertically, the KonMari method of maintaining an organized home hit the mark for millions of people. The success of her book even led to two Netflix series.

It also sparked backlash from parents who insisted that keeping a tidy home with children was not so simple. It's one thing to get rid of an old sweater that no longer brings you joy. It's entirely another to toss an old, empty cereal box that sparks zero joy for you, but that your 2-year-old is inexplicably attached to.

To be fair, Kondo never forced her way into anyone's home and made them organize it her way. But also to be fair, she didn't have kids when she wrote her best-selling book on keeping a tidy home. The reality is that keeping a home organized and tidy with children living in it is a whole other ballgame, as Kondo has discovered now that she has three kids of her own.

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Pop Culture

YouTube star MrBeast sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery to help them see again

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up."

YouTube star sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery

Blindness touches people's lives around the world and YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson, more popularly known as MrBeast, is trying to do something about it. Donaldson made it his mission to help 1,000 people regain their eyesight with the help of Dr. Jeff Levenson, an ophthalmologist and surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida.

Levenson has been operating a program called "Gift of Sight" for over 20 years. The program provides free cataract surgery to uninsured people who are legally blind for free, so long as they meet certain criteria. Levenson had never heard of Donaldson, and he almost hung up on him when the YouTube star called to ask about a partnership.

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up," Levenson told CNN.

After figuring out that Donaldson was indeed a real person who wanted to help others, the duo called around the Jacksonville area to determine the people who needed help the most. They got their list of clients from free clinics and homeless shelters, which covered the United States portion of the surgeries.

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A mom makes sensory sand by putting Cheerios in a blender.

A parenting influencer who goes by the name @ellethevirgo on TikTok has shared a brilliant hack that can turn a simple box of Cheerios into a fun sensory sand experience. The great part is that the sand is edible, so you don’t have to worry if your child puts some in their mouth, which they will inevitably do.

The recipe for Cheerios sensory sand is pretty simple:

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Gaël Monfils makes tennis a must-see.

Tennis isn't always the most entertaining sport to watch, especially if you're not particularly interested in seeing a ball get slapped across a net at 1,000,000 mph approximately 17,000 times. You could probably get whiplash or eye strain if you focused too hard on it. While some people love the sport, others need a little more than grunts and sneaker sounds to capture their attention.

If you're in the group of people who need to be entertained, look no further than Gaël Monfils, a professional French tennis player that has earned the nickname, "The Entertainer." Monfils turned pro in 2004 and has multiple championship matches under his belt, and yet he still takes the time to be...extra while playing.

In a compilation video uploaded to TikTok, we see the 36-year-old tennis player dancing after hitting the ball across the net just out of his opponent's reach. But of course, he also doesn't hit the ball like your average player, either. In one part of the video, Monfils jumps up extremely high and bicycle kicks as he hits the ball with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.

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