If you live in the United States, it is hard not to notice all the campaign signs and other reminders of the upcoming election. Now is the time when Americans from all sides of the aisle come together and take part in something incredible: voting. It is the time to let your voice be heard amongst the crowd and effect real change, not only at a state level but at a federal level. Voting is a powerful tool entrusted to all citizens. For many, a free democratic election isn’t something that happens on a regular basis; it’s a dream for many countries, just out of reach, yet it’s something\ so many Americans take for granted.
Voting is among the easiest of civic duties one could be asked to participate in. It doesn’t take much. Once you’re 18, all you are required to do is register within your state to vote. The power to vote is a constitutional right given to all United States citizens. Since voting is so incredibly important you would think more individuals would engage, but in 2016 only 60 percent of eligible voters actually cast a ballot.
However, for many, it’s not as simple as just showing up. Each state has different laws regarding voting, voting practices and what it takes for your voice to be heard. In 33 states, laws requiring certain identification keep citizens without access to those necessities from voting, despite voter fraud declining more and more each year. According to PBS, since 2000 there have been 44 cases of voter fraud out of over a billion votes cast.
Perhaps one of the biggest issues the lack of citizens at the polls. A lack of voters can be a thorn in the side of American democracy. And while many solutions seem obvious, I believe the best way to get more Americans to the polls is making election day a national holiday, giving individuals time off work to let their voices be heard. This isn’t a new concept, nor is it an original idea. Most countries around the world hold elections either on a Sunday to maximize voter turnout or have an established election day as a holiday ensuring as many people make it to the polls as possible. Without rules like this in the U.S. many citizens in the workforce are unable to make it to the polls on time because of work, school and other obligations.
Making voting easier isn’t a popular argument. Resistance from both sides of the aisle is strong; constituents are nervous. The 2016 election left a bad taste in most people’s mouths. Confusion, low voter turnout and possible outside interference turned what should have been the ultimate show of American democracy, a presidential election, into something of a contaminated political nightmare. However, we must strive to make voting a more attainable goal for all. So in the spirit of democracy, show your political efficacy and allow your voice to be heard. Change is around the corner, but only if you allow it.