2016 Presidential Election
President Trump won the 2016 presidential election by only 77,000 votes out of 136 million votes cast – less than the capacity of the Rose Bowl.
2017 Virginia House of Delegates
In 2017, control of Virginia’s House of Delegates and the swing from Republican to Democratic control came down to a single vote in one race – and was eventually resolved by picking one candidate’s name out of a ceremonial bowl.
Trump was the fourth presidential candidate in American history to win the Electoral College but not the popular vote: he lost the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes but it was 77,744 votes in 3 states that pushed him to electoral victory over Clinton. The outcome of that presidential contest would have been very different if the 91 million Americans who were eligible to vote casted their ballots.
If only around half of Americans chose to vote, it is difficult to claim that any elected official truly represents the will of the people or has a clear mandate to carry out policies.
If citizens do not vote, they relinquish their right to a representative government. A democratic government draws it legitimacy from the citizens who elect it, and this legitimacy is threatened when few citizens exercise their democratic right to vote.
It is the responsibility of the government and the American people to identify the obstacles to voting and to find ways to make the electoral process more efficient and accessible so that our democracy can function as intended.