(En Español) Every election matters because your vote has a direct impact on our lives and our community.
Elected leaders may look at voter turnout when making policy decisions about safety, education, healthcare, infrastructure, taxes – the things that make up our daily lives. When we vote we are not only hoping that our values and priorities will prevail, we are also making a statement about what type of leader we want representing us. We make these statements in every election – whether it is local, state or federal.
Our leaders look at what we’re saying when outlining their plans for the future, whether it is determining their agenda once elected or planning for future elections. Our vote can elect an incumbent leader who is doing a good job or can elect a new leader that represents our values and beliefs.
When voters don’t make their voices heard, they receive a government that may not represent them, and they are also setting the stage for future elections that do not address their interests or beliefs. When you don’t vote for the person that most closely matches your opinions on what priorities government should have, the agenda for today and tomorrow is being set for you. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that you are slowly phasing your opinions out of the public discourse.
There is no good reason to give up your power to vote. In fact, having the power to select the next leader in an upcoming election should motivate you to participate. Your vote matters because your future matters! Yes, you may need to make a decision about someone that you may not completely agree with on all issues, and in the end they may not live up to all your expectations, but your vote keeps them accountable. In the next election, you will again have the power to determine their future by either supporting them again or not.
A few votes can either win or lose an election. In recent local elections, some city councilors and mayors have won by as little as 11 votes. Think about that number for a moment. If 12 people would have turned out to vote in that election, the result may have been different. Every vote can make a difference.
Your vote also plays a role as a part of a larger group of voters who share your values. Without your vote that group becomes smaller and if more people who are like-minded stay home, that group gets even smaller. Before you know it, your interests or ideas are not represented at all.
As long as our nation has existed there have been people who did not want us to vote. Many people have stood up and fought for our right to vote. While that may seem like ancient history, it’s not. There are people today who don’t want you to vote and prefer you stay home. It is up to you to decide whether you will allow your values to slowly be phased out of the public discourse, or you will take your turn to stand up, make a difference, and VOTE in every election. What will YOU do?
Are you an active member of the uniformed services? Perhaps a US citizen living oversees? Just can’t make it to the polls this year? Make sure to take advantage of absentee voting. The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) works to ensure Service members, their eligible family members and overseas citizens are aware of their right to vote and have the tools and resources to successfully do so – from anywhere in the world. Plus any registered voter in Doña Ana County may vote by absentee ballot for all candidates and on all questions appearing on the ballot as if you were casting it in person at a regular polling place on Election Day. Our office will begin mailing out Federal absentee ballots on April 23,2016 and for Doña Ana County residents on May 10, 2016. For more information on either option, please visit https://www.fvap.gov or https://dacelections.com.