Why Vote?



Are you feeling discouraged about politics? 
 Find inspiration at this event:

Saturday, November 3 at 2:00 PM

Goodman South Madison Library 
2222 S. Park Street, Madison  

Read the prize-winning essays
that UW Odyssey students read on




First Place: Jasmine Banks

From Tommy Thompson to my grade school teacher, people came to cast their votes. The one voter who changed my life was a stranger. When he entered the Clerk’s office, I immediately began to pray that he would not come to my station. Why? He is a middle-aged man who is severely physically and mentally disabled. Unable to communicate verbally, he points to words and phrases typed up on a piece of paper that’s glued to a tray attached to his old and dirty electric wheelchair.

With what I thought at the time to be an unanswered prayer, the stranger wheeled himself with an awkward grace to my station. When I asked him if he came to vote, he kindly looked into my eyes and with his bright smile nodded yes. With that, I began a journey that will never be forgotten. Through his patient communication, I learned the needed information to fill out his ballot successfully. When the time came for him to sign his absentee envelope, panic again began to fill my body. How would he sign the ballot to make it official? With grace and patience, he guided me to his signature stamp. As I sealed and stamped his absentee envelope, he in turn gave me his bright, beautiful “we did it” smile. I had assisted in making this man’s silent voice heard and his vote count!

The question asked is “why vote?” After this stranger, my question now is “why don’t you vote?” 

Second Place: Tosumba Welch 

In this very big question “Why Vote?” I’m trying to understand how this even became a question. The subject alone gives me further insight and helps me understand how the extreme importance of voting is not so important to substantial numbers of Americans. Democracy can only exist when citizens of a democratic state are willing and able to take an active role in their government.

As an African American male I must say, even though it’s sad but true, that our ancestors would have considered the right to vote a miracle-like privilege. The Morehouse Male Initiative statistics show that out of 10.4 million eligible black males, 1.4 million have been disenfranchised due to felony convictions and disqualified because of probation and parole restrictions. With numbers like that, is it true to say that we are still in the caves, chained and shackled, watching shadows as in Socrates’ Allegory of the Cave?

Voting is not just something to do. Voting is a serious responsibility held by us as individuals. If you ask me, it should be against the law not to vote. If you don’t vote, it takes away your right to complain about the things that affect us. Voting is our way to be heard without being combative. Not only is education related to voting participation, but the more educated a particular voter is, it can be assumed the more informed the individual vote will be. Now with all this being said, ask yourself, “Why Vote?”

Third Place: Dominique Haskins

Voting is a chance for U.S. citizens to get involved and to share viewpoints about who we feel should lead. If we don’t vote, it’s like saying we don’t care. Most of us have opinions about the way things should go, and we should use the voting process as a way to express our preferences. Voting is a good source for citizens to support the democratic structure.

Doing nothing has its consequences. Regardless of where one lives and how many electoral votes are contributed to the Presidential election, the privilege and the ability to vote requires our response as a citizen of the United States. I feel it’s our civil duty. If we didn’t vote, we would be missing out on a great national privilege and a significant personal freedom.

It’s an exciting opportunity and a choice. Casting a vote is a chance for an individual to express a choice on candidates whom we believe would be great government leaders. The fifteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits each government in the U.S. from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s race, color, or previous condition of servitude (for example, slavery). It was ratified on Feb. 3, 1870.

Voting is our right to represent freedom of speech. Voting shows that we care about our government and our candidates. We should all take time to vote because it reflects our pride in our nation and government. It is our individual chance to vote and to make a difference.