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Why does your vote matter?

Voting matters because it can decide elections, influence lawmakers, and affect local laws and referendums. It's a way to voice opinions on future policies. Voting also connects us to our history and the global struggle for democratic rights. It's a civic duty we shouldn't take for granted.

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Video transcript

- [Narrator] Why does your vote matter? - Your vote matters because, in the most specific case, there might be a race where you live, for the House or the Senate or even the presidency, where your vote really could determine who the winner of that race is. We saw in the 2000 presidential election race, that basically the entire presidency was determined by a difference of 537 votes in Florida. So that's a special case, but then also, there are reasons to vote that have nothing to do with the people who are running for the national offices. There are lots of local offices where laws are put on the book that really can affect your day-to-day life. There's also referendums in various states and localities. There are about 150-odd referendas on everything from whether marijuana should be legalized to whether and how poor people get medical coverage. Those are also on the ballet in a lot of places. And also, when a vote takes place for somebody who is being elected, it's not just for the policies of the day, it's also for the policies that may yet come. And if you have a view on the way things should be handled, you should exercise your voice because it not only, if you are in a place where your vote is not gonna matter in terms of directly electing the person you want, voting sends a message to those lawmakers. And it sends one of two kinds of messages. One, it says this number of people represents this viewpoint. And lawmakers should listen to that kind of message from the voters. A lot of times, even if they don't listen to it, well their opponents will be able to raise it and say, Look, this many people believe in this and you should. It is a fact that is then used in public debate. And that fact can sometimes be used to persuade people. Also, there's the case that lawmakers get nervous. And they want to get re-elected. And if they see a lot of people turning out on the other side, even if it doesn't keep them from being elected, well, the next time, it might keep them from being elected. So they have to listen. Finally, it's the spiritual, kind of American civic religion, which is America started on the idea that we could govern ourselves without resorting to fights. And we've been remarkably successful. Although American history is blotted, and it is broken in places, but Americans have always transferred power peacefully to each other, with the one great exception of the Civil War. But the electoral system still survived, even through that most bloody battle. And so as Americans, by voting, we are putting ourselves back in touch with this great original experiment, that at its time was unique in American history. And there are still people all across the world who fight and die for the simple ability to cast a vote so that their voice can be heard. And so not only to we have to keep faith with our own history, but also with the world in which it is a human right in some places to vote. And so we shouldn't take that kind of thing for granted, if we want a world in which human beings are allowed to voice their vote and have that vote mean something in the way the laws are made that determine how their lives are lived.