Lakewood League Of Women Voters Mary Warren Impact Scholarship Winner: Annabelle King Sorge
Of course voting is our civic duty, our ode to democracy and our expectation as a citizen, but voting possesses more than that. As a seventeen year old AP Government student anxiously awaiting the end of my senior year, I am even more anxiously awaiting the day I turn eighteen and am granted the ability to vote. If society loses the urgency to vote, democracy will be in danger.
We must examine two terms when determining why voting matters so much in our Democracy: social capital and political efficacy. In Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, he addresses how the American community’s decrease in both social capital and political efficacy will result in the demise of the country. Social capital is the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively. As Putnam states, “Americans of all ages, all stations in life, and all types of disposition are forever forming associations…” (Putnam, 65). These associations that take place at the booths keep democracy alive--voting keeps democracy alive. Similar to social capital, is political efficacy--the citizens’ faith and trust in government and their belief that they can understand and influence political affairs. If people vote, the trust in government increases as the results are coming from the people.
To some, voting is completed as a chore is--dreading leaving the house and venturing into the booths thought of as the future. But by showing up to the polls, social capital and political efficacy increase--it brings the nation together and proves democracy works. People engage with one another. The way voters interact with each other on election day creates trust. But, as Putnam observed, voter turnout has been declining. This causes an issue; the less people who trust the government the less people who show up to vote. The act of voting is necessary for our Democracy to perform in an effective manner.
Communicating with other’s while performing a constitutional right is so important to a country. It’s a transformative act. It allows once teenagers to become adults whom Democracy depends on. Our Democracy needs these civic interactions to occur, we need people to care and to engage in conversations. It’s a social responsibility that separates us from other counties. When we neglect to vote, we are choosing not to exercise the most basic element of our nation. These seemingly trivial acts are what keeps our Democracy together.
Annabelle King Sorge
Community activist and concerned citizen.