Voting is the essence of a democracy. Our country was founded on the principles of democratic participation that guaranteed the right of all citizens to have a role in shaping their government. Though for most our country’s existence, it failed to deliver on those guarantees, especially for women and minorities. That said, our imperfect union can only function at its best when its citizens are active participants.
In New Jersey, we are blessed with this opportunity on an annual basis as we hold elections for something every year. This Tuesday, November 7th, from 6am until 8pm is your next chance to engage in this ongoing experiment in democracy, and I hope you will.
Voting gives you the ability to have a say in the decisions that elected officials make on your behalf. Additionally, it allows you to hold each of your elected officials accountable for those decisions. This is why a representative democracy requires the active participation of its citizenry to ensure it functions correctly. In essence, representative democracy only works if we get off our rear ends and put it to work. Our government is supposed to be a reflection of all of its citizens. However, when large segments of our population willingly cede that power to a select few by staying home on Election Day, our government only benefits that minority who actually vote.
That is why your participation on November 7th is so very important. Regardless of who you support, an increased turnout and engagement in our electoral process can only be good for our entire state. I wrote earlier of accountability, but elected officials cannot be held accountable if you surrender your power by not voting. The ballot box can be a powerful change agent, but only if we use it.
To be sure, campaigns these days are often marred and twisted by smears and negative spin, making it difficult to accurately discern truth from fiction. And, for many of us, these negative campaigns make us cynical towards our body politic, or worse, simply makes us say “Why bother?” and stay home. I have felt that way myself from time to time in my life. However, I have come to view voting as a communal act, a constitutional right and a sacred responsibility to exercise on behalf of those who fought and bled for our right to do so. While statistically, one single vote very rarely alters the outcome of an election. Our collective demonstration of civic engagement in this way can and has before. History is replete with stories of how voting has ushered in new freedoms and enhanced the way of life for millions around the world. So, yes voting matters!
That is why voting matters to me and I hope it will matter to you this Tuesday, November 7th, and every other Election Day thereafter. That’s my take. What’s yours?