Culture Staff Writer: Sarah Punjwani
“What’s the point! Voting blue in a highly red county won’t make any difference, and tbh I don’t even really like the candidate I’m voting for!”
“Why should I take part in a political process that doesn’t benefit me in the slightest no matter who I vote for”
“Honestly I live in a voter suppression state, my vote probably wouldn’t even count in the first place”
So let’s dive right into the facts, there are many different reasons why Americans (specifically on the left) will not exercise the right to vote; including apathy, voter suppression, and the desire to not take part in a historically racist and war reckoning institution. Of course, all of these are valid reasons and it’s important that we don’t shame a person into voting when they are not comfortable with the idea in the first place. However, we must understand the fallacies on both sides of the voting argument and how they came to play in this historical election. From the Black Women Democrats registering voters and flipping Georgia to the numerous student campaigns for Biden across the country, this election gain momentum in ways we couldn’t even begin to imagine.
Let’s start with the VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! propaganda of the democratic party. “Vote out fascism and vote democracy back in!”- now this is a common argument placed by centralist democrats, if we can vote out Trump we end the era of Trumpism and we return to normalcy.
Racism in a country cannot simply be voted out, it will remain as long as the institutions that still benefit from the oppression of people of color exist in society. Another side of this get out to vote initiative is that when Democrats lose their critical elections, the losses are blamed on the minority and leftist populations. Democrats claim that these marginalized groups did not get out and vote for us when the reality is that the outreach for voting in these BIPOC communities are already so slim. Blaming marginalized communities for the outcome of lost elections shifts the guilt off of the true cause of these losses which is the government’s hostility towards low-income communities and systemic racism in its institution.
Democrats must truly understand the systemic racism within low-income, black and brown communities beginning with the lack of outreach available to our communities and expanding towards massive voter suppression of our democratic ballots. In the 2018 gubernatorial race Georgia Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, won the gubernatorial runoff election with then-candidate Stacey Abrams with a slim majority of 50.2% of the vote, but we can’t ignore the enormous amount of voter suppression that brought him into office. At the time of the election, Brian Kemp was the sitting Secretary of State allowing him to oversee an election in which he was a candidate. When asked to step down from his position Kemp refused and suppressed nearly 90,000 votes within the election year. In an Atlantic article by Vann R. Newkirk II, he states that “many of those voters found their registration canceled because they had not voted in the previous election. Additionally, under an “exact match” law passed by the state legislature that requires handwritten voter registrations to be identical to personal documents, 53,000 people had their registrations moved to “pending” status because of typos or other errors before a district court enjoined the policy. More than 80 percent of those registrations belonged to black voters.” With this suppression of Black ballots cast for a Black Woman, Kemp was able to take democratic voters of color off the registration roll and secure his seat in office.
Though the argument of apathy and loss of faith in the democratic institution leads to a low voter turnout, it is the exact type of apathy that republicans thrive on. It is a widely known fact that when people turn out to vote in large numbers democrats often do better, as democrats have now won the popular vote in 7 of the last 8 elections. We must recognize how a single vote actually can make a difference! We’ve heard all the arguments from the left before such as; “the electoral college will just decide the election for you!” and “voting blue in a red district makes no difference when you do the math.” Though these arguments are true in a certain sense, we must realize the power apathy has over us. After the 2018 gubernatorial election loss, Stacy Abrams did not hesitate to rise against the republican institution in Georgia and re-register voters who’s ballots have been casted out in the previous election. With her efforts and the efforts of Black grassroot organizations in Georgia, Abrams has managed to flip the state of Georgia to a democratic state, something that has not been done since 1992! Stacey Abrams became living proof that your vote does matter, it matters so much so that it can flip a red state blue. However, we can not ignore the efforts of the Black community in the fight towards a fair election. The Trump administration purposefully gutted the Voting Rights Act, they disrupted the postal service, purged people from voter rolls, closed polling stations, and attacked legally casted mail in ballots. Yet through it all, a record number of 74 million democrats showed up to make their voices heard.
So in conclusion, YOUR VOTE MATTERS! Your vote matters so much so that it could potentially swing a state. Your voice matters in local elections where the popular vote is the only vote. In recent record-shattering voter turnouts like the ones in 2018 and 2020, we saw an institutional shift towards a blue house and a potentially blue senate! Having a Democratic majority in every branch could allow us to expand on rights such as medicare for all and a green new deal for our climate! The American political system is a mess rooted in systemic racism, however, policy is still the fastest track towards change. Every American citizen has the power to create change through their voice and through their vote! It is time we continue this path of voting in large numbers while also understanding the perspectives of those who will abstain from voting because of their personal morals and beliefs. Just remember that within every vote is the power to change the future for the better and your vote does matter!