The Power and Potential of a Vote

By Angela
New Organizing Project blogger
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With the November 2nd elections right around the corner, today’s question is: have you ever wondered and doubted whether your single vote can make a difference, if it is even worth bothering to go to the polls and cast your vote? If you ever have, I ask you to reconsider as I explore with you how much power your single vote potentially carries in our democracy.

The United States of America is a nation of democratic principles. The fundamental aspect of democracy is that it is “a form of government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.” In other words, democracy exists because people have the power to elect officials through the power of their votes.

Throughout history, many people have organized, fought and even given their lives for their right to vote. For them, suffrage was not something to be taken for granted.

But you may wonder, why was it so important for them to have the right to vote in the first place? Why were they sacrificing so much and fighting so hard to be able to cast a ballot?

Part of the reason may be that they had lived and suffered through many social, economic, and political injustices in American society. Voting was a way to partake in democracy and make a change that they believed in.

Many people still in this day do not have the right to vote. Including me. Yet, many people who do have the right to vote take it for granted and don’t exercise that right.

The things you want to see happen in your city, you have the voting power to make them happen. If you are so frustrated and angry about the flaws in our society, you can make change through your vote. If you have a cause that you truly believe in, your vote has the power to help make a positive difference. Voting determines how much money we make, how much we pay for gas, and so many more factors that are a part of our lives.

You may still wonder how your single vote makes such a big difference. Certainly it is not you who make the ultimate decision on a given law since your signature does not make a law go into effect, nor do you vote directly for or against a House or Senate bill.   The elected officials have the power to pass laws that affect our lives, but we have the original power to elect those officials who can govern according to our values.

Although the reasons to vote are so clear, the voting rate, especially in the Asian American Americans and Pacific Islanders population, is particularly low. As part of an effort to overturn this trend, the Alliance of Korean American Students in Action (AKASIA) at the Korean Resource Center in Los Angeles is engaging in the Korean American Voter Engagement(KAVE) project in order to highlight the importance of civic participation among Korean American and AAPI youth. We hope that the organizing capacity and the progressive minds of these young people can create a movement for this and future elections, so we can make the change that impacts our community and the nation at large (Check out a post on young voters by my NOP sister, Hyo, here).

We have often heard the words, “majority rule.” Majority certainly does rule in democracy, but you can contribute to that majority when it makes sense, or do the harder work of contributing toward a movement to make a minority heard. Don’t just complain about a problem in society, don’t just hope for a change, but instead vote for that change, organize that change, be that change. Now is your chance to make a difference. November 2, 2010. Exercise the power within yourself.