The 2016 general election is just a little over six months away and the primary battles are slowly drawing to a close. The field of candidates has whittled down quite significantly from 25 major candidates to the final five– three Republicans (Businessman Donald Trump, former Ohio Governor John Kasich, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz) and two Democrats (Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton). Today, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Connecticut will all be holding their primaries as the remaining candidates fight for ever single delegate they can get. On the Republican side, Ted Cruz and John Kasich have teamed up to do everything they can to prevent Trump from reaching the magic number of 1,237 and becoming the GOP nominee by default, and instead incite a contested convention where they would have a better chance of being the party’s nominee. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is looking to extinguish the Bern once and for all while Bernie Sanders attempts to cut into her delegate lead.
Though voting is an integral part of being a citizen of a country, many people are unsure on how to do it or even why they should do it. Our slogan here at In Loco Politico is “educating the people of tomorrow”, something our writers hold very near and dear to their hearts. As such, we thought it was important to write this article to inform our readers on why they should vote and how they can do it.
How to Vote
Since California is the home state of many of our readers (and writers) as well as the biggest delegate prize in both primaries and the general elections, we will cover the steps necessary to vote in California. For resources on how to register to vote in other states, click here. California has a semi-closed primary meaning that if one wishes to vote in the Republican primary, they must register as a Republican. In order to vote in the Democratic primary, voters must register as a Democrat or chose “no party preference” on the registration sheet. All registration must take place before the deadline of May 23. Citizens can even register to vote from the convenience of their home through the internet at this website.
Given the suspicious amounts of voter fraud and suppression in other crucial primaries throughout the country, we urge voters to check their registration status before June 7, the day of the election, so they are able to vote in the appropriate primary. On the day of the election itself, polls are open from 7 am to 8 pm. You can find polling locations near you here. Make sure to bring a form of legal identification, especially if you registered online. Ensure that you are given the Democratic ballot if you registered as a Democrat or no party preference or the Republican ballot if you registered as a Republican. If you happen to encounter some suspicious or strange happenings while trying to vote, we highly encourage you to contact the California Secretary of State’s office at (800) 345-8683 or submit a written complaint here.
Too busy to vote on June 7? Voters are legally entitled to time off at the beginning or the end of their shift to allow sufficient time to vote, with up to 2 hours of that time being paid. Still too busy to vote? You can request a mail-in absentee ballot through this link but you must do it before May 31. Early voting in California begins May 9 and ends June 6. Make sure to contact your county elections office for county-specific early voting rules.
This election is perhaps one of the most pivotal in the entire history of our country. Not only is the Oval Office up for grabs, but so are 469 Congressional seats (all 435 House seats and 34 Senate seats). Whoever becomes president will also have the chance of nominating as many as five justices to the Supreme Court, radically changing the ideological composition of the court potentially for decades. Of course, whoever our next president nominates will have to get confirmed by the Senate so both parties will fight for control of Congress come November. The Republicans will attempt to hold on to their small majority in the Senate while the Democrats attempt to chip away at the GOP’s insurmountable majority in the House. In essence, all three branches of our government will be radically affected by the outcome of this election.
If that’s not enough reason to get our readers to vote, consider who the two front-runners are. One is an overgrown, spray-tanned schoolyard bully born with a silver spoon in his mouth. The other is a lying, untrustworthy corporate shill with either terrible judgment or malicious intents. Would you truly want either of them to be the leader of this nation during troubling times such as these? While our country would arguably be much, much worse under Donald Trump than under Hillary Clinton, we should not have to settle for the lesser of the two evils as we are so accustomed to doing, especially not when there’s an actual candidate, Bernie Sanders, who represents the people and will fight for their best interests.
I personally do not have the privilege to vote because I am an undocumented citizen. But as the old saying goes, those can’t do, teach. The simple truth is that politics seeps into nearly every facet of modern life, whether one is aware or not. The things that go on in Washington DC and our state capitols have both direct and indirect consequences on most everyone in the United States. For that reason, politics matter. Now I’m not saying that one has to dedicate themselves completely to the study of politics like political scientists do, but they should be aware of the political environment and the implications our government’s choices have on our every day lives as well as be an active participant in the process by voting and interacting with one’s politicians.
A citizen’s civic duty is to be educated on the different candidates and laws that are being proposed as well as participate in the political process by voting. I often hear people complaining about the corruption or gridlock in our government and how the government is screwing us over at every opportunity, yet many of these very same people do not go out and vote, mainly out of the belief that their vote does not matter and will not make a difference. I agree the system is not always fair and often times seems rigged in favor of the “establishment”, but that is absolutely no reason to give up and be complacent with the status quo that is disenfranchising so many of us and silencing our voices.
If anything, these attempts to silence us should serve as a rallying call for the people to force change by democratic means through removing these politicians out of office. It won’t be easy as they are doing everything they can to cling onto power by diluting or invalidating the votes of citizens with policies such as voter ID laws, gerrymandering, and de facto voter suppression, which disproportionately affect people of color and the poor.
These barriers, along with a litany of other reasons, have made voter turnout in the United States depressingly low. Our country is ranked 31st out of 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), most of which are considered developed, democratic countries. Despite being touted as the ultimate authority in democracy, a mere 53.6 percent of the 241 million eligible voters in the United States voted during the 2012 presidential election. This number is even lower for midterm elections with only 33.9 percent of eligible voters voting in the 2014 midterm election, the lowest turnout for a midterm election since World War Two. Compare that to other OECD members such as Belgium (87.2%), Turkey (86.4%) and Sweden (82.6%). To be fair, Belgium and Turkey both have compulsory voting meaning eligible citizens must vote or face a fine, as do many of the other top ranking countries. Most countries with higher turnout and registration percentages than the United States also either automatically register citizens to vote once they become eligible or actively try to register them, as opposed to the US where registering to vote is a personal responsibility.
This election is much more than just about picking our president. This election is truly a battle for the soul and future of this country. The implications of this election can potentially have a radical change on the current two-party political system, potentially leading to splinter parties formed in the wake of the election.
The American people have been continuously exploited and mislead by our own government for decade upon decade and it is time we put an end to this. We must demand our government make voting more accessible to eligible citizens instead of erecting barriers that prevent many of us from doing so. We must make our voices heard, shouting at the top of our lungs as they cram their fingers in their ears. The political revolution is coming one way or another and you can bet on one thing: it will not be televised.