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Why vote? Here are 6 reasons.

Column by Commissioner Cook

  • 17 February 2022
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 3002

Now “why should we vote?” In Travis County on Jan. 15, 2015, I attended a voter registration rally. The keynote speaker was Regina Lawrence, then executive director of the Annette Straus Institute of Civic Life at the University of Texas. The state, at that time, was in the doghouse for failure of its citizens to vote. In the 2014 November election, only 28.5% of voting-age Texans participated. That put us at the next to the bottom of the nation for voting; Indiana nabbed last place. 

Williamson County bested the statewide number with a turnout of 38.2% of registered voters casting a vote. It didn’t help that in 2014 Texas was 44th in political competitiveness. We were a one-party state, and yep, we were pretty much a one-party county.

Much has changed since 2014. In 2016’s November election, 67.57% of Williamson County’s registered voters voted. We even challenged Travis County that we’d beat them in percentage of registered voter turnout from the Commissioners Court dais for the 2018 and 2020 elections. Travis County had long had an aggressive voter registration machine, but with the support of our election’s administrator, Chris Davis, and his team, both Wilco parties have developed strong voter registration outreach programs. Wilco won both times for bragging rights with 63.49% to Travis’ 62.84% and in 2020, 76.22% (all-time high for Wilco) to 70.55% for Travis of the registered voters participating — minus the pre-parties of centuries ago, yet we have sustained the after-party food and booze traditions.

So why vote?

1. The math says my vote doesn’t matter. Your single vote won’t determine who’s president because of the electoral college; however, down-ballot it could. Wilco has recently seen squeak-through races. A candidate for a Cedar Park City Council seat won by two votes in 2019.  The Precinct 4 candidate for Wilco commissioner won by 64 votes in 2018.

2. In a gubernatorial or presidential race, my vote won’t determine the winner.  However, in local elections, only votes determine the winner. Don’t view your vote in a narrow light. Many may share your concerns but still vote; join them.

3. The common belief is that the political system is unresponsive and impervious to change. This is right if you don’t vote. Change requires a groundswell demanding it. There’s no recipe for change without votes.

4. If you don’t vote, others still will. Voters vote because they are inspired – make your vote an expressive act.

5. Voting does matter. It’s a practical act of civic duty. Voters aren’t delusional. Most feel obligated to cast a thoughtful vote. We need to pass this conviction down to younger generations. We don’t vote for immediate changes but for the long-term.

6. If all else fails, use shame to compel someone to vote. Not voting fails everyone.  We can’t afford to not vote.

So get fired up for this 2022 primary. Vote411.org is the League of Women Voters’ website for your study of the candidates and issues. Get ready and be there by election day, March 1, to cast your vote.

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