The rising tensions between political parties and constant policy debates perfectly describe this time of year: election season. As election day quickly approaches, Americans must make a nation-altering decision. On November 3, American citizens will fill in that bubble, in an attempt to change the country for the better. Before that date, they must decide which presidential candidate will do a better job in securing a bright American future. Although this is a large decision, it means nothing if this resident cannot vote for it.
Voting is a right of passage; a privilege granted to any and all eligible American citizens. As wonderful as it is to be able to choose how and who a community is run by, many eligible American citizens never officially cast their vote. Studies, such as the research gathered by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, have shown that up to 100 million qualified voters skip this part of democracy and instead leave the decision making in the hands of their fellow citizens. According to Gallup, an American analytics and advisory company, 46% of Americans do not identify with any political party, leading many of these said indifferent “non-voters” to opt out of making an electoral decision completely. The majority of the rest- however- do not contribute to elections not because they are ineligible, but because they simply do not know how.
The voting system may seem confusing to some, but contrary to popular thought, casting a vote is a straightforward process. First and foremost, the most important step for eligible voters is registering. Many states offer registration online, by mail, and in person to ensure that everyone who wants to participate can. Once the registration is complete, hopeful voters can head to the polls.
The U.S. government encourages their citizens to take part in this form of democracy and therefore acknowledges the many opposing conditions present in America. Multiple voting options are available for the Americans who are dealing with a chaotic schedule, lack a suitable form of transportation, or are experiencing any other type of conflict. On November 3 between approximately 6am and 7pm, polling stations around the country invite nearby residents to come in, put their pen to paper, and transform the country. For the busier citizens, mail-in voting is available, allowing for a quick and easy contribution.
In many states, including California, a voting ballot will be delivered to each registered citizen’s home no later than 29 days prior to the election. After filling out the form, the voters must then decide how they would like to turn it in. Every voter has the option to return their ballot in person or to a drop box before 8pm on Election Day, or send it back by mail as long as it is postmarked on or before November 3. This is a convenient option for overseas workers, elders who prefer to stay at home, and citizens who may be away from their place of residency on Election Day.
Mail in voting has been available for each presidential election since the 1800s, when soldiers were far from home, fighting for their beliefs in the Civil War. As the worldwide pandemic continues however, the convenient option is increasingly becoming more popular. Some citizens are lucky enough to have a polling station a couple blocks away, but others are forced to use public transportation, and may have to wait in line to cast their vote. Many Americans are out of a job due to the COVID related closures, and others are spending every spare minute maintaining their employment. Therefore, the time and effort to get to the voting polls may not be worth it to them. In addition, public transportation is the only form of travel for many citizens. As COVID-19 and its well-known shadow of fear continues to spread, Americans are becoming increasingly hesitant about going out into a world hosting possible victims of the disease. Even if they make it disease-free through the bustling streets, said citizens would still have to wait in line as the disease floats around, increasing their chances of getting the coronavirus. So, to avoid the risk, mail-in voting is available in many U.S. states, giving Americans a chance to contribute to the future of the country.
From the citizens not wanting to leave their homes to the soldiers risking their lives overseas, all voters make a difference and help contribute to the development of the country. By coloring in a few little bubbles, citizens throughout America can help bring the governmental change they hope to see, and draw the country closer to a fair democracy. Whether filled out and submitted in person or returned by mail, every ballot counts and assists the enhancement of America. Go Vote!