Voting is about having a voice and participating in our representative republic (which falls under the umbrella of a democracy). If even one person does not have an equal voice, how can there be freedom? To be free, every vote matters, and there are consequences to voting. Every American has the opportunity to fight for democracy each election, and this coming election is no exception.
In a time when the Supreme Court has removed rights for the first time, there should be concerns about where voting rights rank on the list. The right to vote has been hard-won and has come at the cost of many American lives. Cases like Moore v. Harper are on the Supreme Court docket, which would nullify hundreds of election rules. The result would throw elections and voting into chaos.
Voting rights did not come for all Americans with the Constitution. Voting is not about giving people the right to complain. It is the first action in using hard-won freedom. Voting rights are not always about race or gender. Laws limiting the IDs eligible for voting or forcing people to register each election are just about making voting more difficult. Creating barriers and making voting difficult is an attack on ensuring everyone has an equal right to vote.
Think about it. If you’re not voting, who is? The ones that vote are the ones that make all the decisions. One party in Idaho has held a supermajority for 30 years. However, many of these choices are made during the primary — determined by a minority that doesn’t exceed 30% of the voting-age population. In the last general election, Idaho saw its highest turnout of voting age population at 65.62%. Consider that in this upcoming election, candidates were selected by less than half of the 65% that voted in the last general election. How can broad-based values and culture be protected if only a few people make the decisions?
Many complain, “My vote does not matter.” However, laws start within the state. The recent change to Roe v. Wade came from a state challenge. Electing influential legislators that want to address real problems is more important now than ever.
It’s that lack of voting that has had the most severe consequence in Idaho. The result has been an ineffective supermajority that has wasted the past few legislative sessions fighting a culture war. Guilty of creating and chasing their narrative versus addressing real problems. While education continues to suffer and housing becomes unaffordable, our representatives have paid private lawyers to enforce their witch hunts.
There is still time to participate and have a voice. Idaho allows for registration at the polls on Election Day. There is time to understand what the candidates support and if their values align with yours. Take time to exercise your right to vote and stand up for democracy. Tuesday, Nov. 8 is an important date. Idahoans can find all the details about voting and their poll location at voteidaho.gov.
Dan Barker is a global organizational and leadership consultant and the vice chair of the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.