My Vote Won’t Make a Difference

What Would You Say?

You’re in a conversation and someone says, “My vote doesn’t make a difference, so I’m not voting.” What would you say? 137 million people voted in the 2016 election. That’s a lot of people. One vote, out of 137 million, doesn’t seem likely to make a difference, does it? But is that a good reason not to vote? No. And here are three reasons why: First, one vote matters a lot in local elections. When most people think about elections, they often focus on the Presidential candidates. A lot of people vote for President. But there’s so much more to each election than who ends up in the White House. State and local elections not only have a big impact on your life, they are often decided by a much smaller number of votes. In 2017, a Virginia House of Delegates race ended in a tie after more than 23,000 ballots were cast. The winner was decided by pulling a name out of a bowl. In 2016, a New Mexico State House seat was decided by just 2 votes out of 14,000 ballots cast. School board elections, which happen in every town in America, determine what students are taught at school. Many of these races are decided by just hundreds of total voters. It’s also important to remember that elections are about more than who takes public office. There are also measures on most ballots that affect local laws, everything from rules about utilities or transportation to late-term abortion restrictions. These critical decisions make a big difference in our lives. We can choose to be part of them, or not, but whether we choose to participate matters. Which leads to the second point. When lots of people decide their vote doesn’t matter, it makes a big difference. Elections are decided by who shows up. If one person out of 150 million decides not to vote, it doesn’t feel like a big deal. But what if 10 million people decide their vote won’t make a difference? That makes a difference! In 2016, 232 million Americans were eligible to vote. But only 153 million were registered to vote, and only 127 million voted for President. That means that almost 100 million people who could have voted for a presidential candidate chose not to. In the end, Donald Trump was elected President with less than 63 million total votes, which represented only 27% of eligible voters. Elections aren’t decided by the majority opinion. They’re decided by a majority of whoever shows up to vote. It’s much more about participation than it is about persuasion. That’s why your vote matters more than you think, even if you don’t fill out a ballot. But for Christians, it’s not just about the results of an election. Which leads to the third point. Voting is an act of stewardship. Romans 13 tells us that government was created by God in order to punish evil and reward good. That means, that if any of us had been born into a royal family, and were destined by birth to be king or queen, we would be responsible to use the power God gave us to punish evil and reward good. Most of us, of course, weren’t born to be a king or queen. But as Americans, all citizens have been given authority to determine who will be in government. That authority also came from God. Our job is to use that authority the best way we know how. That means doing our homework about the candidates and the initiatives on the ballot, and then accepting our responsibility to vote. That’s what it means to be a good steward of the things God gave us. Though the ultimate outcome may be beyond our control, our stewardship of the authority God has given us is part of our responsibility. So next time someone tells you it’s not worth voting because your vote won’t make a difference, remember these three things: Number 1: In local elections, a single vote matters a lot. Number 2: When lots of people decide their vote doesn’t matter, it makes a big difference. Elections are decided by who shows up. Number 3: Voting is an act of stewardship. For What Would You Say, I’m Joseph Backholm.