(Smarticle) Does Voting Matter? (And Online Voter Registration)

If you aren’t interested in reading about whether or not voting matters, skip to the end of this editorial and click the link.

(COVINGTON, La.) — Chances are, fellow St. Paul’s students, you haven’t registered to vote.

Even if you have, you probably aren’t planning on voting in any local elections- maybe the presidency, but that’s probably it. We hear it all the time- that we HAVE to vote. That it’s a civic duty, part of being an American.

I’m here to examine a crucial question that every person needs to ask themselves, a question that could make or break our political system- does voting even matter, anyway?

It does, but only sometimes.

Voting for president is a joke, and voters that ignore local elections and only vote for the president contribute almost nothing to the political system-unless you live in a big state like California, Florida, New York, or Texas, that is.

The president is not elected by a direct democratic vote, but by “electors” in the electoral college. Each state is given a number of electors based on population size- states with populations like Louisiana have numbers around eight. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. If a candidate wins the majority in a state, that candidate gets all of the electors. So in states like California, with a whopping 55 electors, if, say, a Democrat candidate wins 51% of the state, they get ALL 55 electors and the Republican candidate gets none.

Politicians then focus on states with a large number of electors, ignoring smaller states and states that will probably vote for their party, or “safe states.”

Unless you live in Ohio, California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, or Pennsylvania, you might as well not even go out to the ballot box.

Gerrymandering explained- a redistricting can lead to an overall win even for a minority party. (Photo Credit- Urban Milwaukee)

But wait, there’s more! Voting in local elections is less pointless, but don’t you worry, good ‘ol Uncle Sam still found a way to make it less democratic.

Gerrymandering is a political technique that allows the state legislature to redefine districts and essentially manipulate voting numbers.

It’s incredibly important, because a state legislature can manipulate a state’s districts in order to increase the likelihood of more congressmen that share their party affiliation. This means more red or blue representatives, even if those elected officials would have lost the election if their district had been expanded to include more people.

In Louisiana, gerrymandering has shrunk down the areas that vote Democrat into one malformed district in order to decrease the number of Democrats in the House of Representatives. (Photo Credit: Daily Kos)

The two major local elections that aren’t subject to gerrymandering are the senate election and the gubernatorial election. These two elections are done by a state-wide popular vote, meaning that districts don’t factor into the election.

Where your vote really counts is where politicians can’t regulate it, and it just so happens that a major election is right around the corner.

The Louisiana Governor Runoff Vote is being held on Nov. 16, and your vote counts for it. The governor holds a large amount of power in Louisiana, so your vote can make a huge difference in how our state is run in the coming years.

Maybe your vote doesn’t matter for the presidential or local House election, but for senators and governor it couldn’t count more. Register to vote online in Louisiana here.

“Smarticle” is the regular column by Paper Wolf Editor-in-Chief Hal Fox, in which he addresses issues from media to politics to whatever he feels like. Fox’s opinions are completely irrelevant because he’s too young to vote and doesn’t know anything about anything.

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