I was an incredibly frustrated 17-year-old during the 2016 presidential election. I kept politically informed and felt defeated, disheartened, and angry for a number of reasons, but I was especially upset because I was about to become an adult and had no say in who would be leading my country next.
I finally got to vote for the first time in the midterms last year; I took a picture smiling with my absentee ballot and then sent it across the country. And it was exciting, but I was still enormously unsatisfied with the lack of contribution my vote made to anything. I grew up in and voted in Connecticut. It’s safely an entirely blue state, even though only roughly 60 percent of voters are registered Democrats.
The alternative was for me to vote in CA-27; since I go to school there, I could’ve forfeited my Connecticut residency and become a Californian. But it wouldn’t matter. While I hate to come up with alternative realities, I’m very confident that no matter where I voted, Connecticut would still have seven Democrats and zero Republicans and California would still have 46 Democrats and seven Republicans in the House of Representatives. I was between two states and like so many others, I had absolutely no shot in making an impact. Of course, no single vote can swing a vote almost ever, but the point is that I am certainly not the only one who had almost no incentive to vote.
Electoral reform is a rudimentary aspect of democracy that we’re missing. America is losing hundreds of thousands, potentially even millions of votes, because people say their votes won’t matter, and right now, they’re often right. Change has to happen to ensure the democratic, constructive future of the United States.
Unfortunately, for 17-year-old me yelling at a TV during the presidential debates, nothing would change in terms of casting a vote, even if ranked-choice voting was implemented everywhere. But who’s to say that the outcome would’ve been the same had the primaries used a ranked-choice system? And a representative congress would certainly be helpful in getting out the vote for people to let their opinions be heard, not only as those electing officials but as those with greater opportunities to become officials themselves.
I came across FairVote because I was looking to do something with a tangible, positive impact in the political epicenter of the country: Washington D.C. I’m happy to be working at an organization for the greater good with goals that benefit those who typically don’t get a say in the politics that dictate vast portions of their lives.
In the fall, I’ll start my junior year at Scripps College in Southern California where I’m working towards my dual Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Interdisciplinary Humanities.