Why Should Citizens Vote?

Voting is a privilege and a right

Voter entering U.S. voting booth
U.S. voters in New Hampshire casting their votes for the 2016 general election.

Matthew Cavanaugh / Getty Images

It can be tedious standing in line to do something that you're not sure will make a difference. If you're like many Americans, your day is already crammed full of must-do tasks and errands so you simply don't have time to stand in that line to vote. Why put yourself through it? 

Since it often makes a difference. U.S. citizenship grants most the right to vote in American elections, and many new citizens cherish this right. Here are some of the reasons that they stand in line, and why you might want to do so as well. 

The Role of the Electoral College

The Electoral College has something of a bum rap, especially over the last couple of decades. It's often said that leaders in the U.S. are chosen by the people in a majority vote, but is that the case with the presidential election?

Five presidents have been elected to the White House after losing the popular vote: John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, George W. Bush, and Donald J. Trump.

Technically, electors are supposed to vote for the candidate who won the popular vote in the state they represent. Population varies by state, and so the college is set up to accommodate this. California has more electoral votes than Rhode Island because it's home to more voters. If a candidate wins a populous state such as California by just a small margin, all the state's electoral votes still go to the winning candidate. The result? Lots of electoral votes, but maybe only a few thousand more popular votes.

In theory, at least, that candidate may have received only one additional vote. When this happens across several large, populous states, it's possible for the candidate with fewer popular votes to win in the Electoral College. 

Voting Is Still a Privilege

Regardless of this wrinkle, democracy is a privilege that should not be taken lightly. After all, the Electoral College has prevailed over the popular vote only five times and 46 presidents have been elected. Many new immigrants know firsthand what it's like to be governed by leaders who have not been chosen by the people all the time, not just in isolated elections. This is why many of them come to this country—to be part of a democratic structure where representatives are elected by the people. If we all stopped participating in the electoral process, our democratic government could wither away.

Pride in Your Adopted Homeland

Elections take place at the national, state, and local levels. Taking the time to understand the issues and evaluate what each candidate has to offer helps to establish a sense of community and kinship for immigrants with fellow citizens across the nation. And state and local elections typically are decided by a majority of the people. 

It's a Responsibility 

The USCIS Guide to Naturalization says"Citizens have a responsibility to participate in the political process by registering and voting in elections." In the naturalization oath, new citizens swear to support the Constitution of the United States, and voting is an integral part of that Constitution.

No One Likes Taxation Without Representation 

As a U.S. citizen, you want a say in where your taxes go and how this country is run. Voting for a person who represents shared visions and goals for your country is an opportunity to become part of the process.

View Article Sources
  1. "Electoral College Fast Facts." History, Art & Archives. United States House of Representatives.

  2. "Distribution of Electoral Votes." Electoral College. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

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McFadyen, Jennifer. "Why Should Citizens Vote?" ThoughtCo, Jul. 31, 2021, thoughtco.com/why-should-i-vote-1951564. McFadyen, Jennifer. (2021, July 31). Why Should Citizens Vote? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/why-should-i-vote-1951564 McFadyen, Jennifer. "Why Should Citizens Vote?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/why-should-i-vote-1951564 (accessed June 10, 2023).