Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Dakota Center for Independent Living

All Votes Matter

Voting is often seen as the cornerstone of American democracy, but so few people vote leading to a lack of voices being heard. The voting process used in the United States is described in Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution. Basically, the process works with a two-part system. On the first Tuesday of November, millions of American citizens go out to cast their vote. This is known as the popular vote, and what few people realize is that this vote doesn’t actually elect the president.

Do you understand what the Electoral College is? I didn’t have a clear understanding of it, so I thought I would take a minute to try to help you to understand how it works.

After the American citizens go out and vote, the Electoral College casts their vote. These electors are people of different states, and the number of electors for each state is the number of U.S. Senators plus the number of U.S. Representatives for that state. Some states have laws requiring the electors of the college to vote for the member that won the popular vote in that state, but others are bound by pledges they made to certain political parties.

The Electoral College is seen as a controversial mechanism within elections. It was designed by the framers of the Constitution because of fears regarding presidential elections. Some politicians at that time believed selecting the winner just on the popular election was too reckless, but other politicians were concerned with giving the power to Congress to select the president. Thus, they created the Electoral College to balance the popular vote and the electoral vote. Most of the presidents of the United States have been winners of the popular vote as well as the electoral vote. However, there have been rare situations in which the winner of the election was one who had more electoral votes than popular votes.

Is the system safe or perfect? Well, it can be ‘safe’ to say that NO system is completely ‘perfect’. These government systems were designed by humans, and humans themselves are flawed. So, how can you expect perfection from a system designed by imperfect beings? The best you can do is to do your part to try and salvage the system.

After learning about the Electoral College, there are a large number of voters who end up discouraged. After all, if the electoral vote is really the only vote that matters, what would be the point of voting at all? However, the popular vote is what helps the Electoral College make their decision. Deciding not to vote because you believe your vote doesn’t matter is basically like handing off the win to the candidate you don’t like. Every vote counts because, again, many states have laws requiring the Electoral College to follow the popular vote of that state. Plus, your vote also puts those electors in the Electoral College.

The system might seem corrupt, but it won’t get any better if you sit on the sidelines complaining about how horrible it is. Voting is your right and your responsibility as a citizen of the United States of America. The democracy of this country was founded upon free and fair elections where every eligible citizen casts a vote.

Withdrawing your vote breaks down the electoral process at its most basic element – the people. The rules set down to guide the voting process were not designed to harm us but rather to help us. The winner might not always be the one we hoped for, but we can move on with hopes that the next vote will lead to our pick being the one to win.

When we vote, it’s not just for those individuals that will go to Washington to lead us. We will also be voting for local representatives, state and city, along with local issues that will affect our local community. These decisions will affect money, education, public safety, roads and many other day to day issues of our lives.

Don’t be one of those individuals that have thrown in the towel with our system. You still have the right and the responsibility to vote. Please do it!