Column: Think your vote doesn’t matter? Think again.

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Coloradans voted in record numbers in 2020 – 3,303,265 ballots were cast, an amazing turnout of 87 percent. People think big national elections are important, and they are, but what many don’t realize is that the decisions most likely to impact their daily lives are made at the local and state level by people elected in mid-term elections like the one this year. 

What’s more, we’re still reeling from the tumultuous 2020 election and its continuing aftermath, and that may be giving you pause about voting again this year. In fact, are you using one of these excuses? 

“Politics is too polarized – I want nothing to do with it!” One reason parties are moving to the extremes is because the small number of voters who hold those extreme positions are more likely to vote than moderates. So, the fewer people who vote, the more polarized politics becomes. Higher voter turnout (that means you) in primaries and midterm elections broadens representation and dilutes the influence of extremists. 

“My vote isn’t secure.” The Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and, closer to home, the Colorado State Department and the Colorado County Clerk Association have all confirmed that voting in Colorado is secure and safe from domestic and foreign interference. 

“I don’t understand the issues.” You don’t have to be an expert, just be informed. It’s easy to get hung up on binaries – is this good or bad? But issues are more nuanced and there are many points of view. Voting is your chance to express yours. You are not likely to find a candidate who mirrors your opinion exactly on every issue, so read up on the things that are most important to you and then find out where the candidates stand. 

“I don’t like either candidate.” How do you know? The beauty of local elections is that it is possible to hear candidates in person and perhaps even meet them. Contrary to popular belief, most people run for office out of a desire to serve and once you get to know them, you may like them better than you expect. 

And now, the worst excuse of all. “The results are a foregone conclusion and my vote won’t make a difference.” Actually, new districts based on the 2020 census were drawn in Colorado by independent commissions, which means that many districts are more competitive than ever before. The Colorado Sun recently reported that there are seven particularly competitive state senate districts, and that is enough to determine which party controls the chamber. In other words, results are anything but a foregone conclusion and your vote can sway the outcome. 

Voting is one of the most important ways to exercise your opinion and help shape the community you want to live in. Your voice matters. 

Lisa Cutter represents District 25 in the Colorado State House of Representatives and is a candidate for Senate District 20. 

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