Leverage Your Voice: Register To Vote in the Place it Counts the Most

This year is bound to be one for the books, especially as we approach election season. Voting is a privilege and making your political voice heard to democratically elect individuals to represent you is a fundamental pillar of our government. Cynics argue that your vote doesn’t matter, but there is always a way to make your vote count — it might just depend on where you actually register to vote. 

Contrary to popular belief, local elections are extremely important. Local politics have a greater impact on your day-to-day life at home than whoever is in the White House. Do you care about the budget for police or climate change? It’s not the president, but your local elected officials who manage the public safety budget and your county’s recycling efforts. Were you unhappy with responses to COVID-19? Your governors, mayors and town councils were responsible for creating and enforcing measures to try to stop the spread of the virus, not the White House. Whether you thought your state’s response was too strict or too lax, your regional vote can change who is in charge as the pandemic persists into the winter. This November, 11 governors face re-election along with countless mayors from Baltimore to San Diego. Registering to vote in your hometown can affect a lot more than you realize.

As a college student living in Hamilton, N.Y., you can also register to vote in Madison County. All of the aforementioned powers of your vote still apply and can greatly influence the public schools, services and day-to-day lives of our Colgate community. By voting here, you may have a decisive vote in the highly contested race between incumbent Anthony Brindisi (D) and Claudia Tenney (R) for the House of Representatives. In 2018, Brindisi edged out Tenney by a narrow margin of less than 2 percent of the votes (ANES, 2018), and the seat is up for grabs again. In NY-22, a district that threw its support behind Trump in 2016, your vote could be the difference between keeping a Democrat in the House or giving the seat back to the Republican challenger. 

The Presidential election is the one people seem to care about most. Due to the way the electoral college is set up, every vote does not necessarily hold the same weight. In most U.S. states, the winner-take-all system gives the popular vote winner all of the electoral votes from that state; the national popular vote does not actually decide the presidency. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016 by more than 2 million votes, but Trump emerged victorious because of the electoral college.

For the presidential election, the state in which you register to vote really makes a difference. In states that consistently vote blue, such as California, New York and New Jersey, or states that consistently vote red, such as Alabama, West Virginia and Louisiana, voting against the incumbent really does not make a difference. If you have ever heard someone from the minority party in one of these states argue that their vote does not count, in terms of the presidency, there is some truth to that. However, if you live in a swing state, your vote carries a lot more weight. Those electoral votes can go either way depending on who shows up to the polls on election day. In 2020, votes are up for grabs in states like Ohio and Wisconsin, and untraditional swings states like Arizona and Georgia. If you are from one of these states and prioritize the presidential election, it might make more sense for you to register to vote at home.

No matter how you slice it, voting in local elections and presidential elections is crucial, especially in 2020. Deciding where to register is really about leveraging the power of your vote and prioritizing what matters most to you. 

To check your registration status or change where you are registered, visit vote.org. You can also email [email protected] with any questions or for additional information.