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Assayer of Student Opinion.

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A common misconception is that one voter doesn’t make a difference. You are one of about 674,000 people in El Paso, only one of about 27 million in Texas and a measly one of 319 million people in the United States. So the “every vote counts” argument can sound patronizing if you think all your vote matters for is electing the next president.

No, you won’t be choosing the next president of the U.S., and in a Republican state like Texas, Democrats’ votes matter much less in a national election.

But your vote counts in ways that matter even more—especially in this election cycle.

Think for a second about who actually writes the laws that shape our country, state and city. For the most part, it isn’t the president. It’s the job of our representatives in both the state and national  Congresses and the Senates to write the bills that shape our everyday lives.

Representatives can only claim their seats because of the people who voted for them. So, in the greedy, power-hungry game that is politics, why would any representative care about a community that didn’t give him the job?

During the 2014 midterm elections—a very crucial year in politics since Texas was electing a new governor, and senatorial and congressional seats were up for grabs—only 82,588 El Pasoans came out to vote. That’s only 20.41 percent of the eligible voter population.

Cities such as Austin complain about their low voter turnout, and 41.38 percent of eligible Austinites showed up to vote in 2014. In Dallas, 34 percent voted in the midterms.

Now imagine a room full of state representatives and senators gathered in Austin deciding budgets, writing policy and voting, as they do every two years. They’re deciding how much money will go towards infrastructure, security, education, etc. They’re also the ones who voted in the campus carry law.

When only 20.41 percent of El Pasoans vote and only 39 percent of Texas Hispanics vote, do you think they’ll pass a budget that will allocate funding or pass bills that matter to Hispanics or this city? We aren’t their constituents, only their voters are.

This election season has been dominated by hateful rhetoric (ahem, Donald Trump), and Hispanics are learning now, more than ever, how much power we have in our vote.

Although for the foreseeable future Texas will always vote for a Republican presidential candidate, this year the hope is that Hispanics will turn out in mass numbers throughout the U.S., and that could have a huge effect on the policies passed and the rhetoric politicians use from here on out.

Instead of continuously passing laws that do more damage to our community, or completely neglect our city, representatives will be forced to acknowledge the power in our numbers.

Next week, on March 1, Texas will be holding primary as well as local and statewide  elections. If you love your city, here’s your chance to prove it.

Jasmine Aguilera may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Jasmine Aguilera
Jasmine Aguilera, Editor-in-chief
Jasmine is a senior multimedia journalism major with a minor in anthropology. She began practicing journalism as a high school student when she joined the Tejano Tribune, El Paso Community College’s student newspaper. During her senior year she became the first ever high school student to become editor-in-chief of the Tribune. She moved on to join The Prospector team in the fall of 2011. Jasmine has covered national politics, immigration, poverty, human trafficking, refugees and more in her time holding various editorial positions at The Prospector and as an intern reporter at the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire and Gannett News Service, both in Washington, D.C. She aspires to become an international reporter and tell stories that do not receive the attention they deserve. Until then, she spends her time following the news and guiding a very talented team in reporting for a student audience and the El Paso community. She also enjoys a good book, art, music and the occasional Netflix binge (House of Cards and Breaking Bad remain her favorite).
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