marginalized voters

During the 2020 election, it is important that people from all communities register and commit to voting. 

In an article published in September by the Pew Research Center, there were demographics of the racial and ethnic composition of the U.S. electorate by state between 2000 and 2018. White people accounted for the highest percentage of eligible voters across the nation — with Hispanic, Black and Asian eligible voters being disproportionately lower. 

There are many movements, like Black Lives Matter, encouraging their supporters and allies to go out and vote. 

As the deadline for requesting a ballot and voting at the polls on Election Day nears, there is a question as to whether voting truly matters, and if so, to whom.

David Peterson, professor of political science, said the subject of why voting matters can be a delicate topic. Peterson said it is particularly unlikely a single vote would make a difference, and it is rare some outcomes are decided by a single vote. 

But Peterson said voting matters to the ones who go out and vote.

“The feeling of civic pride and of doing one’s duty are really important to lots of us,” Peterson said.

When it comes to marginalized communities, Peterson said it is important to vote because they are ignored if they do not. He also said there is research that proves the government will respond to the needs of communities more when they are actively participating. 

However, Peterson points out there are many reasons people choose not to vote. For some, it is too time-consuming to try to work out where and how to vote. Some states have different voter registration times and that can cause people to forget about registering. Even in the cases where the government changes the location of polling places, Peterson said the voter turnout will be low.

Peterson also said there are other people who do not see how the political parties and their candidates are different. 

“If you don’t think your vote will matter or that it doesn’t matter who is elected, then why take the time to vote?” Peterson said.

Peterson explained the best way to get other people around you to vote is by letting them know you yourself are voting. It is best to encourage people to turn out and help them figure out a plan for voting. 

Julie Ntegeye, senior in political science, said it is important for Black people to vote because it is the only way their voices will be heard. The system has suppressed Black people for many years and voting is the only way to try to change the system. 

Ntegeye said the election will help the Black community spread awareness of the issues happening in the community as well as how their voice matters.

Ntegeye explained that although there is a stereotype that Black people do not show up to vote, it is mainly due to the fact that they do not feel as if their voice will be heard even if they do.  

However, Ntegeye said any type of vote definitely makes a difference mostly from the Black community. 

“It’s very important for marginalized members of communities to vote, that’s a big way of using your voice in a democracy other than protesting,” said Cemre Emir, junior in political science. 

Emir, who identifies as a lesbian cisgender woman, said the 2020 presidential election is consequential to the LGBTQIA+ community because the current president and vice president are not allies of the community, nor do they care to be.

Emir explained that the current president and vice president have “actively fought against the LGBTQIA+ community, allowing discrimination to continue and barring gay families from adoption, and will continue to do so if they are not voted out of office.”

Emir said in spite of the fact they cannot replace the current president with someone as “wonderful” as U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, it is essential to replace the current president with someone who is open to the idea of change.

Emir pointed out that voting is important at all times, and said the people elected on the city council, state legislature and U.S. Congress are just as important, if not more important, than the president.

“I definitely think voting matters, but then again once a system has established a corrupt agenda it’s very difficult for the people to simply vote out the bad,” Emir said.

Voter registration ends in Iowa on Oct. 24, for those interested in registering to vote or looking for resources about voting, visit Do Something’s webpage.

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