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

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

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?

More
True
Aspen Institute

Anyone who has spent a day in a classroom knows that teachers—especially teachers of young kids—are superhuman superheroes. And any parent who has spent a day outside of a classroom trying to wrangle a group of young kids through a field trip would describe teachers in even stronger language than that.

That's what dad blogger Clint Edwards of No Idea What I'm Doing: A Daddy Blog discovered on a recent trip to a pumpkin patch with his daughter's kindergarten class. The father of three and author of a new book, "Silence is a Scary Sound: And Other Stories on Living Through the Terrible Twos and Threes," penned a tribute to teachers everywhere that has gone viral for the hilariously real truth it describes.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Healthcare dominated much of the Democratic debates this week, and for good reason. Multiple polls show that healthcare remains Americans' top concern.

My teenage daughter recently had some blood work done, and the total cost was more than $1000. After insurance, we have the honor of paying $200. For blood work. For nothing to be wrong.

Was the lab testing her blood with gold and platinum? Were they sending it to space and back? I mean seriously, how on earth could blood tests cost $1000?

Meanwhile, in other countries, we have people giving birth, having surgeries, fixing broken bones, as well as basic blood work, for no out of pocket cost whatsoever.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

A tiger who was injured in a poacher's trap will be given a prosthetic paw in the first operation of its kind.

The seven-year-old cat named Sahebrao was rescued in the Chandrapur district of India in 2012 and was relocated to the Wildlife Rescue Center at the Gorewada Zoo in Nagpur. He later developed gangrene and had to have part of his left leg amputated, according to The Indian Express.

For last six years, Sahebrao has been living with increasing pain. Determined to help the animal, Sushrut Babhulkar, a Nagpur-based orthopedic surgeon, adopted the cat and has been working with experts, including Dr. Peter Giannoudis from the University of Leeds in the U.K., to explore the possibility of creating an artificial limb.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Pixabay

In today's episode of WTH, professional accounting services firm Ernst & Young has taken gender dynamics in the workplace to a whole new level. And by whole new level, I mean totally batsh*t backwards.

An anonymous former employee sent a 55-page Power-Presence-Purpose (PPP) presentation to HuffPost, detailing a self-improvement training offered to employees last year. According to "Jane," who has since left the company, the presentation was demeaning to women and left her feeling like a piece of meat.

Keep Reading Show less
popular