Growing up my father always preached about the importance of voting and how vital it is to sustain a democracy. At the age of 18, I cast my first ballot for the 2010 midterm election and I’ll never forget the feeling of how great it felt to make a change, as the candidate I voted for had won.

Years later, I am now a political science student and as a senior who has taken multiple courses and done extensive research on voting trends and habits, I can tell you that voting is not only vital to sustaining the very democracy in which we live in, but also has a profound effect on every aspect of our lives.

 Don’t believe me? Let me tell you a quick story about my hometown. A young man, only 29 years old took on the establishment politicians and mayor of my town. He faced a challenger who not only had name recognition but also a large campaign war chest. This young man traveled door to door, business to business and held numerous town halls in order to get his voice out. Mathew Bogusz won the mayoral election with 63 percent of the vote and was elected as the youngest mayor in Des Plaines’ history.

Need further evidence of the importance of doing your civic duty and voting? I’m about to touch on a topic many of you know very well: the election of President Trump.

I will be as unbiased as I possibly can when I discuss why he won, why Clinton lost and how nonvoters were the reason he was elected president of the United States.

We’ll start with the obvious, the democratic party nominated someone who could not muster the enthusiasm of those who voted for Mr. Obama and alienated a strong portion of minorities and working-class voters. If you watch SNL, Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock explained it quite well after the 2016 election.

Now let’s discuss something that has recently come to light. The Pew Research Center recently released a robust survey of the 2016 electorate. The points to two things I want to point out, first, President Trump’s base support has enthusiastically supported him throughout the primaries and general election (and very much still today) and those folks vote.

Second, the data points to something which people who complain about how voting doesn’t matter need to realize: those who did not vote are just as responsible for the outcome of the 2016 election than those who did.

As I wrote in my previous column, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won her primary race against a ten-term incumbent because those folks in her district saw the need for change. Voting matters.

People tend to complain that voting doesn’t matter, politicians do whatever they want, what’s one vote going to change? It changes everything.

If you complain about high taxes, under-funded schools, corrupt government, wasteful spending and other issues, go vote on election day. Those issues are all on the ballot and your voice needs to be heard.

A democracy, the one I grew up in and the one I love is in a place where our society is divided, people are angry, and they want change.

Even if your preferred candidate doesn’t win, don’t let that discourage you from voting again. I would like to bring up one last example of voting importance with the democratic gubernatorial primary in our own state.

State Sen. Dan Biss ran against the power house of the Pritzker campaign. He went grassroots, traveled to colleges and spoke extensively on our campus. He lost.  But that’s not the point I would like to make.

Those democratic primary voters were unified in removing Gov. Bruce Rauner from office but differed on their preferred candidate. Well, if you want Rauner gone, or you want him to stay, get off your couch and vote. Don’t be the reason our democracy continues to be in peril. Voting matters.

ANDREW DOUGHERTY is a senior news reporter for The Vidette. Contact him at vidette_addough@ilstu.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @addough

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