by Grace Whitman ’22 A&E Staff
In 1776, 56 men signed a document stating that “All men are created equal,” but in reality, they have not always been treated as such when it comes to voting. In terms of voting, being able to express your opinion at the ballot box has not always been a right, but rather a privilege.
Almost half of eligible voters did not cast a ballot in the 2016 general election. People who do not vote leave political results to chance. Vox’s new Netflix special series Whose Vote Counts, Explained details the different systems that keep Americans away from the polls, strengthen some votes over others, and favor money over constituents.
Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, Selena Gomez, and John Legend, Whose Vote Counts lays out the importance of voting and why your individual vote matters.
Featured throughout the three-episode series are prominent political figures including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. Representative for New York›s 14th congressional district, and John Kasich, former Ohio governor and candidate for the 2016 Republican Party presidential nomination. Although they have polarizing opinions on policies, both Ocasio-Cortez and Kasich strongly agree that the right to vote is extremely important to our democracy.
Among other people interviewed in this series are Desmond Meade, an advocate and ex-convict who lobbied to overturn laws that did not allow former felons to vote in Florida; Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives; and Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Republican Governor of California.
The first episode, titled “The Right to Vote,” explains that over the past roughly 250 years, different groups have had to fight for their right to vote. Even with the passage of the Native American Citizenship Act and the 15th, 19th, and 26th Amendments, legislators still create laws to make it more difficult for marginalized populations to actually cast a vote. This episode encourages people to vote with a strong sense of urgency.
The second episode, titled “Can You Buy an Election?” breaks down the dark money in politics and the impact that corporations, super political action committees (PACs), and political nonprofits can have in the election process.
The final episode, “Whose Vote Counts,” tackles topics including the practice of gerrymandering and the electoral college. Lately, the government has been controlled by people whom most Americans have voted against. In 2012, Republicans received 47.1% of the national popular vote but 53.7% of the seats in the House of Representatives. Additionally, President Donald Trump received about 2.9 million fewer votes nationwide than did Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Although there are countless flaws in the American democratic system, the right to vote allows people to voice their opinions and to send a message to the people at the top. Whether you are a progressive or a conservative, there is a role for you in helping to shape our next generation. With the 2020 general election coming up on Nov. 3, vote early, request an absentee ballot if necessary, and vote for the change that you want to see. Channel your dreams and passions to be an important voice for your community and country.