Shafer, a junior at the University of California, Berkeley, is the director of external affairs for BridgeUSA, a national, student-run organization seeking to depolarize college campuses and increase youth civic engagement.
Do you feel like your vote actually matters? I sure don't. Though I proudly registered two years ago on my 18th birthday at city hall in my Chicago suburb, and have voted in every single election since, I know my vote does not truly matter. It is a drop in a bucket in a safe district.
The reality is, most of our votes do not matter; 85 percent of House districts are not in jeopardy for the party that holds the seat. Millions are misrepresented by politicians they oppose. Candidates from third parties, who may be most representative of a district, are dismissed as "spoilers" ruining the election for the two-party duopoly. And safe districts encourage candidates to pull away from the middle to win primaries, but never move back in time for an assured victory in the general election.
We all know the troubles riddling the Electoral College — from granting a voter in Wyoming 57 times the voting power as a voter in California, to giving a single white voter the power of 1.05 voters but an Asian voter the influence of 0.58 of a vote. This system has grown horribly out of step with the wishes of the majority; three out of the five instances of a popularly elected candidate losing an electoral vote occurred in the past 16 years.
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