Make Your Voice Heard: The Importance of Voting

November 2, 2012


Whoever said one vote doesn’t make a difference? With the elections being three days away and the polls showing the two presidential candidates almost tied, every vote will make a huge difference.

American Muslims are working tirelessly to activate the community and highlight the importance of every vote. In this election, much like the close election in 2000, swing states and minority communities will be the deciding factor in who becomes the next leader of our nation.

Approximately 1.2 million American Muslims are registered voters, and according to the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) American Muslims can be a key factor in the swing states of Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Estimates put about 50,000 registered Muslim voters in Ohio while Virginia has 60,000 and Florida has about 70,000.

In key counties in swing states, American Muslims may bring in 1 to 2 percent of the votes that are needed to swing the election either way. That may not sound like much, but a swing state is defined as a state where a national election can be determined by less than three percentage points.

Much like any minority community, American Muslims have the power to be integral and active citizens in our nation’s decision-making process. According to national surveys conducted at the time in 2000, 72 percent of American Muslims voted for President George W. Bush primarily because he spoke out against the use of secret evidence in deportation hearings and racial profiling. In 2004, 93 percent of Muslims voted for Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry, and only one percent for Bush. In 2008, nearly 90 percent of Muslims voted for Obama and 2 percent for Sen. John McCain.

The democratic process is a precious one, making voting a serious treasure and privilege. Rather than not partaking in the system, actively engaging oneself in the elections strengthens our nation’s foundation and our community’s influence. It allows each and every individual who voted to have a front row seat when it comes to voicing policy concerns. Without voting, the griping session tickets are null and void. American Muslims cannot be afraid to take part in the very political system that affords us the right to cast our votes based on our understanding of who we think will lead our nation best. American Muslims may not have the sheer numbers nationwide to ever cast bloc votes; however, voting makes every bit of a difference on the collective American Muslim identity.

This Tuesday, it is imperative that every able American goes to their local polling place and votes. Vote based on your research, understanding and the confidence that the person you choose will be the person who will lead us to a more prosperous America. Don’t let the naysayers tell you that voting does not matter. Those that don’t vote end up losing in the end.

[Contact: Hoda Elshishtawy, Legislative and Policy Analyst, (202) 547-7701, hoda@mpac.org]

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