It’s Time to Vote

It’s our democratic duty to register to vote for the upcoming primaries


Wikimedia Commons

The partisan breakdown of Ohio’s congressional districts since 2012.

You have eight days.

Eligible voters of Ohio need to register to vote in the next eight days, by Feb. 18 in order to vote in the Ohio primary election on March 17. You have eight days to give yourself a voice in the course of our nation.

President Lyndon B. Johnson said, “This right to vote is the basic right without which all others are meaningless. It gives people, people as individuals, control over their own destinies.” But in recent years, voting has lost its importance in the minds of Americans due to political loopholes such as gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering occurs when the dominant party redraws the boundaries of voting districts to  create absurd shapes that will include enough of that party’s voters to ensure victory in elections. This political tactic has been used to disenfranchise Republicans, Democrats and minorities. 

Because each district is represented by a single member of Congress, only the majority of that district is represented in the federal government. The incumbent advantage means that seats rarely switch between parties. Election after election, political minorities continue to be unrepresented on Capitol Hill.

Over time, gerrymandering wears down voter motivation. According to PEW Research, the United States is ranked 26th of 32 developed countries in terms of voter turnout. Only 61.4 percent of eligible voters voted in 2016, according to the United States Census Bureau.

These low numbers keep us from being a true democracy. We need the inspiration and voices of our citizens to form legislation, and that means the input of every citizen. When you vote, you represent more than your own opinion. You are a small part in a network of people fighting for their beliefs. You are a proponent of democracy and an activist for your principles. Your vote matters.

Voting ensures a healthy democracy. Apathy is a virus. Once we believe that our vote is insignificant, others begin to feel the same. Indifference and laziness spread and demean the value of democratic principles that have taken years to earn, rights that are still in progress across the globe. By casting your own vote, you preserve liberty for all.

Even in the United States, voting is not a guaranteed right. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 16 states passed voter suppression legislation in 2011, including Ohio. When you fight for your right to vote, you represent all the disenfranchised American citizens whose rights are under legislative assault.

Ohio is behind the times compared to other states that let voters register in person the day of primary elections, including Colorado, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Indiana, North Dakota, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Maine, Wyoming, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Montana, Washington, Utah and Vermont. This upcoming registration deadline makes matters urgent.

The March 17 primary will be one of the most important in our lifetime. The primaries mark our chance to change  the direction we’ve been heading. The last four years have been riddled with divisive and regressive politics. But, the beautiful thing about democracy is that every election gives us a chance to start over.

The winner of the March 17 Ohio Democratic primary will earn up to 136 of the 1,990 delegates needed to secure the Democratic presidential nomination this summer and challenge President Donald Trump in November. 

The Democratic primary ballot includes Michael Bennet, Michael Bloombreg, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Andrew Yang, Elizabeth Warren, Tom Steyer and Bernie Sanders. Yang will appear as a write-in candidate and not on the official ballot. 

The Republican primary ballot includes Donald Trump, Bill Weld and Roque De La Fuente, but only Trump is officially named on the ballot.

This New York Times article about the primaries covers 35 questions about the upcoming elections. Number 34 reads: “Are we going to be O.K?” And the author’s response: “Were we ever, really?”

According to the PEW Research Center, “Partisan divisions over presidential performance are wider now than at any point going back more than six decades.” Primary elections are our first chance to repair the damage done by the negativity that has marked our politics for years. Our votes determine the future of our nation.

So in these eight days, use your power to play a small part in a monumental decision. On March 17, exercise your right to vote.

You can register to vote here.

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