En español | If history is a guide, voters 50 and over will once again cast the majority of ballots in the upcoming presidential election. In previous national elections, more than half of all voters were people 50+, and they were the key voting bloc in this year’s primaries and caucuses, encompassing a majority in almost every race.
While the media report high levels of voter dissatisfaction with the presidential choices and predict low voter turnout, voters 50+ know from history that every vote counts and that voting is our opportunity to have a voice in deciding what direction America will take.
So, even if you are one of those who doesn’t particularly like the presidential choice, or who believes your vote doesn’t matter, I would remind you that there are still plenty of good reasons to vote.
In addition to the presidency, every seat in the U.S. House of Representatives is on the line this time, along with 34 U.S. Senate seats. Forty-two out of 50 state legislatures are holding elections, and 12 governors’ seats are up for grabs.
Your one vote in a sea of 126 million might feel trivial, but we’ve seen elections in which a few more of us showing up could have changed history.
John F. Kennedy won the 1960 presidential election by one vote per election district in 12 states. U.S. Senator Al Franken won his seat by 312 votes after an eight-month recount and court challenges. And, of course, George W. Bush versus Al Gore in 2000 was so close it had to be decided by the Supreme Court.
Your vote takes on even more weight in state legislative contests. This past November, two candidates for the Mississippi state legislature tied at 4,589 votes apiece. State law required them to draw straws to decide the winner. At stake was a crucial supermajority required to pass hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenue. The loser in that election would have given a lot for a single additional vote.
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Nothing celebrates and symbolizes democracy’s freedoms like voting does. In voting, we’re all standing on even ground. Every ballot cast carries the same weight as every other.
The ability to decide who governs is a privilege our ancestors fought hard to secure and expand. We still see people in new democracies risking their lives to exercise this precious right that so many of us take for granted.
These days, there’s no shortage of individuals who’d like to take it away from us. In 2016, 15 states will have new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election. The new laws range from photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks to registration restrictions. Twenty states have new restrictions in effect since the 2010 midterm election.
Your vote matters deeply, so please check with your local election board to make sure you are properly registered and have everything you need to be able to vote.
Every vote counts!