Voting is often seen as the cornerstone of American democracy, but so few people vote leading to a lack of voices being heard. Refresh yourself on how voting works, and discover why even your vote is important. Take a class on the U.S. Constitution.
Interested in the beginnings of democracy? Read an interesting article about the Greek’s ideas on democracy.
How Voting Works
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.
The Electoral College
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.
The Rare Situations
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. They are John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, and George W. Bush.
In the rare occasion of a tie during the electoral vote, the vote is then decided by the House of Representative. There have only been two times that the president was elected by the House of Representatives. Those presidents elected were Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams. Learn the story of liberty with an online course.
Is the system perfect?
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 do your part to try and salvage the system.
Are there better systems out there?
Without a doubt, you have likely heard or seen news stories of other governments running their countries far smoother than the United States appears to be running. However, just as the system here in the United States has its problems, those other countries likely have their flaws too.
Again, these systems were created by imperfect human beings, and it’s impossible to demand perfection of them. There can, however, be reform to the systems as new information is learned. Most countries appear to be better at reforming their systems than the United States, but that can be painted by a “grass is greener” perspective as well. The only way to know if the system is better is by living under it.
Why Your Vote is Important
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.
A Right and a Responsibility
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. Learn more about positive psychology with an online class.
Damaging Your Own Spirit
It might seem difficult to believe, but believing that your vote doesn’t matter can have a huge impact on your own spirit. No matter your justification or excuse, in the long run you’re telling yourself that you don’t matter. You end up disappointed because your choice for election wasn’t chosen, and you determine that there’s no point in voting next time.
Psychological tests have shown that stating something you do doesn’t matter is just as powerful as saying the very words “I don’t matter.” Disappointments will come and go, but what shows your strength and resilience is what you do after the fact. It’s fine to be disappointed that your vote wasn’t chosen this time, but you need to pick yourself back up and decide that sitting on the sidelines certainly won’t change things.
Whether you believe the system is flawed or not, refusing to cast your vote means you refuse to exercise your right as a citizen to have your voice heard. Removing your voice from the crowd won’t make any difference. So, if you really want to see change occur, be a voter who volunteers to inform others about coming elections.
Some Benefits to Voting
If you are in a neighborhood that doesn’t turn out to vote, be the one to make a change. There are a great number of benefits that go along with voting. Elected officials pay attention to people who vote, and if you’re in a low income neighborhood, encouraging everyone to vote could mean that the elected official will then turn around and work to make changes in your neighborhood.
Many studies also show that people who vote receive positive civic, health, and social benefits. Voters are more likely to volunteer in their neighborhood or contact their elected official with pressing issues. They tend to be more informed about the affairs of their city, and they contribute to the “social capital” of their neighborhood.
Neighborhoods of voters are friendly neighborhoods. Everyone knows everyone, and they have contact with those around them. They have more concern for their communities, peers, and they feel like they can make a difference in their world. Such improvements lead to more people in the community voting too, so be the first to start the change. Learn more about social psychology with an online class.
What the President You Help Pick Has the Power to Do
Most Americans know that the president is just one piece of the three-piece system that runs the United States of America, but the president has powers just like the other two pieces of the system do. Here’s a list of powers that the president holds, powers that can be in your hands – in a way – by helping to pick the right president:
- The president is the one who selects Supreme Court judges. While the Senate has to approve the choices, these judges might very well serve in the Supreme Court for life.
- The president can veto items he doesn’t agree with. There are two ways the president can do this – a regular veto and a pocket veto. A regular veto means that the president sent a bill back to Congress with objections. A pocket veto means that the president held onto the bill while Congress was not in session, and the bill was rejected.
- The president is the commander in chief of the country’s troops. He has the power to declare or end war, and he has the power to call out troops for short-term military action.
- The president has the power to pardon federal crimes.
- The president has the ability to issue executive orders that don’t require congressional approval. These executive orders are usually designed to protect the power of the people.
- The president can influence legislation. This is commonly done by vetoing bills Congress is attempting to pass.
- The president is the face of the United States of America. He is the figurehead that represents every citizen of the United States when interacting with other world leaders.
- The president has the power to make treaties.
Your vote has the power to decide who receives these powers. Whether you vote or not, someone will be selected to hold these powers, and their decisions will affect you. At least by voting, you can make it clear that you were not one of the people to put whomever in power.
Making a Change in Your World
You are responsible for you, your family, and your things. By refusing to vote, you can be left feeling like someone else is responsible for your life, your family’s life, and your belongings. Casting your vote is a simple step in feeling like you’re making a change in your world.
Encourage your friends, family, and other relatives to vote. Make certain that they’re informed of all aspects of the items they’re voting for. Never let someone you know step into the voting booth with the idea in mind to just pick random answers. Keep in mind that their random answers will have an affect on your world too.