The Importance of Voting
Today is my oldest son’s 18th birthday, which happens to be nearly 50 years after the adoption of the 26th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which reduced the voting age from 21 to 18. Commonly referred to as the “Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote,” my son now has the right to vote and participate in our system of democracy.
The importance of voting cannot be overstated. It is a democratic right generations have fought for – a right much of the world does not have and envies. Just last year, we celebrated two other voting milestones: the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibited racial discrimination in voting.
Voting is the most basic privilege in a democratic society. Voting allows our voices to be heard, impacts our everyday lives and drives change. It not only decides who is in office, but voting decides which policies are put in place and how and where taxpayer money is spent. Voting determines issues that directly impact us such as taxes, housing, and public safety. When people choose not to vote, they are giving their voice and power to someone else.
Local elections are particularly important and have the power to drive change in our local communities. For example, the areas that a city council controls, such as public safety, affordable housing and how zoning decisions directly affect local outcomes like whether a drug detox can go up next to an elementary school. Part of voting is holding our elected officials accountable.
Shockingly, far too many do NOT exercise this right to vote. Census Bureau data shows that about 70 percent of eligible American voters are registered and only about 60 percent of them actually cast ballots. Voting and Registration (census.gov). That number is even lower in local races – only 5-27% of registered voters cast ballots in local elections.
Political and critical decisions are made whether you vote or not. You still pay taxes even if you don’t vote. Elected officials make decisions about which streets get paved, which sidewalks get repaired, and how our city is zoned without regard to your opinions, if you don’t vote. When we do not vote, we give the small number of special interest voters a louder voice because they are a bigger percentage of a smaller pie.
To the contrary, when we all vote, we are a powerful force. The City of Camas witnessed first-hand how powerful voting is when we defeated the recent pool bond 90-10.
We all have a part in shaping the world we live in, and our voices matter. Vote. For yourself, for your family, for your community.
Getting registered is the first step. It provides you with the option to vote. You cannot vote if you are not registered.
Registering to vote is easier than ever. Voter Portal (votewa.gov) allows you to register online, or in person.
Deadlines for the August 3 Primary Election
July 26: Online and by mail registrations must be received.
August 3: Register to vote in person by 8 p.m. at your County Elections Office.