There’s plenty of reasons people use to excuse themselves from not voting. But in case you need a reminder of why every vote, and especially your vote is important, we simply need to look at our state’s national rankings on everything from education to healthcare.
That’s right, we are last in everything! In fact, New Mexico was recently ranked 51st in the nation in terms of our level of political engagement.
A highly engaged electorate that participates in the democratic process and holds our elected officials accountable is critical to having a well-functioning democracy. This election has become a referendum on many critical issues important to our families and communities, like healthcare, the economy, education, immigration, and climate change. When we fail to show up to vote, politicians have little incentive to address our concerns — especially when our interests run counter to those of the wealthy donor class who finance so many campaigns.
According to data from the Secretary of State, in the 2014 mid-term elections for New Mexico, almost 1.3 million people were registered to vote. Out of those, only 39% cast a ballot.
This means the makeup of our state and local government, not to mention the federal delegation we send to Washington, is effectively determined by only a fraction of New Mexico’s citizens. Just let that sink in for a moment. When a large majority of those eligible fail to vote, the winning candidate just needs to earn a fraction of a fraction. Use 2014 as an example. To win public office a candidate needed to get a mere 20% of the vote — hardly a mandate with which to govern.
Voting is crucial to make sure our voices are represented in our local governments, and also to guarantee politicians are held accountable to our communities’ needs, not their own.
This time around, there is too much at stake not to vote. We have an opportunity to ensure NM reverses its horrible rankings and ensure everyone in our state is able to gain access to opportunities to thrive. But for that to happen, we all need to do our part.
Early voting starts this Saturday in New Mexico and runs until Nov. 3rd. This means there’s no need to wait until Nov. 6th to cast your vote. So don’t wait until the last minute and make sure to make your voice heard in these midterm elections.
Remember, the well-being and prosperity of our communities across New Mexico depend on you to do your part this election cycle by casting your vote.
To find an early voting site near you make sure to visit: NMVote.org
Oriana Sandoval is the Executive Director for the Center for Civic Policy in New Mexico.