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?

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Aspen Institute

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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Not everyone thinks that women are tomatoes. This year's CMA Awards celebrated women, and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles saw the opportunity to bring awareness to this issue and "inspire conversation about country music's need to play more women artists on radio and play listings," as Nettles put it on her Instagram. She did it in a uniquely feminine way – by making a fashion statement that also made a statement-statement.

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