Voter turnout is one of the most powerful tools to measure the health of democracy because it relays how much trust voters have in the system that elects the people in power. When we turn out, we have power to ensure our representatives are are beholden to all of us rather than a powerful few. But too often, elections in the United States are determined by voters who do not represent or reflect the demographics of the country.
Why All of Our Voices Matter
We need to strive for higher voter turnout because we need as many people’s voices reflected in our electoral process as possible. The more people are encouraged to vote, the more communities are empowered to raise their voices at the ballot box, the more we elect representatives who are accountable to our values and reflect the districts they serve.
We watched as President Trump’s campaign of fear and misinformation, in concert with stricter voter identification laws and fears over voter fraud, work to limit the voices who are most likely to disagree with him.
What would happen if every voice was encouraged to cast their ballot at the polls? What could our Presidency and Congress look like if every person was told that their voice mattered?
2018 Georgia Gubernatorial Election
The recent case of the 2018 Georgia Gubernatorial elections is one of the most explicit and damning cases of voter suppression — and how these tactics can tip the scales in a direction that ultimately do not reflect views or demographics of the public they are seeking to serve.
In the 2018 race, Stacey Abrams (D) and now-Governor Brian Kemp (R) competed in a race that was decided by less than 60,000 votes — a clear example of why every voter matters, especially when win margins are narrow.
While running for governor, Kemp was also Georgia’s Secretary of State, which meant he was both a player and a referee in the race for the governorship. He was concurrently asking for voters’ support while also purging voting rolls and putting over 50,000 voterfiles on hold (approximately 70 percent of which were Black voters).
He accused the Democratic Party (without any evidence) of hacking the state’s voter registration database, and then publicized the false report on an official state website on election day, sowing disinformation and mistrust in Georgia’s electoral process. Meanwhile, under his watch as Secretary of State, he left six million Georgians open to hacking by failing to protect their names and passcodes as part of the state online voter system.
In an audio recording leaked to Rolling Stone, he explicitly worried about Abram’s chances of winning, “especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote.”
The end of Kemp’s campaign was a flailing attempt to rewrite his record and block his opponents’ supporters from making it to the polls. This is the new strategy for corrupt politicians: if they think they can’t win an election honestly, then they work to disenfranchise those who disagree with them. It is shady tactics like these that send a message to voters that their voice doesn’t matter, that it’s not even worth trying to vote.
That’s why it’s so important to fight back and encourage every eligible voter to cast their ballot in every election.
When more people vote, we know we are electing leaders who truly exemplify our values. Even though greedy politicians are doing the best to rig the rules to keep themselves in power, when we raise our collective voices at the ballot box we can overcome their greed.
We can encourage our friends, neighbors, relatives to head to the polls. We can volunteer for local get out the vote efforts. We can help register new voters. We can spread positive narratives that are hopeful and empowering. Because when we come together within our own communities, we have strength in our numbers and write our own rules that are fair and just for all.