So you think your vote doesn't matter...

Author: Ben Gonzalez

Voting is one of the greatest privileges I will ever have in my life, and it’s important we all recognize that and don’t take it for granted. Some of you reading this might think “My vote’s not important,” or, “My vote really doesn’t have an effect on elections.” I’m here to tell you that, technically, you’re right. In fact, within political science, there’s an equation that’s labeled the “paradox of voting” because political scientists agree that for a lot of voters, it doesn’t make sense for them to vote.

Why? Well think about this: if you think your vote won’t matter, expanded on by what you think your benefit is from a certain outcome in that election, then your costs--like the cost of traveling to the polls or missing work to vote--are certainly going to outweigh your benefits. Like I said, if we measured how decisive your vote was numerically (which would be low, near zero in federal elections) and multiplied it by what your benefit is if you get your desired outcome in that election, it doesn’t amount to much. However, there are some exceptions. One of those, for example, is that some people’s sense of civic duty or pride by voting automatically makes it worth any cost for them, solving the “paradox.”

However, I think this perspective only serves to undercut what voting actually means and what it does for us--especially as a generation. As Gen Z, did you know if you registered to vote--right now--and voted in the next election, you’d make up at least 1/10th of the entire electorate? That’s the largest influence a generation will have in U.S. elections in the entirety of this nation’s history, period. Not to mention, because we all went through a lot of the same experiences and paid attention to the same world affairs--also set to become the most educated generation on Earth--our politics are probably the same, if not extremely similar. So combine that with the most significant influence when it comes to the American electorate, and I argue that it does make sense for you to vote; not as an individual, but as a community. This is why I vote, because I know that if my community--my generation--and I vote, we can leave this world a better place.

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