It was around 10 p.m. on Election Day in 2016 and I was sitting on my bed watching election numbers pour in. My room was quiet. My mind was at ease and in my heart, I knew history was about to be made once it was announced that Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton would become the first female elected President of the United States.
I, along with most of the country, watched stunned as Hillary Clinton received 2.8 million more popular votes than Republican-nominee Donald Trump. But she did not win.
My fingers were tingling. My heart was pounding erratically and my eyes flooded with tears. Donald J. Trump, the man we laughed at the entire election cycle, won 306 electoral votes, which prompted him to become the 45th U.S. President.
Internally, I was defeated. With the chaos that ensued after the 2016 Presidential election, it was easy to believe that my vote truly did not matter at that moment. Clinton received more than 2.8 million voters; yet, she was not my president.
I almost gave up until I thought of the privilege I had to even be able to fill out a ballot in this country. In exercising my right, I vote for my ancestors that were lynched for trying to cast a ballot. I vote because it matters and when we vote, we win.
Let’s look at the numbers.
According to the Florida Division of Elections, as of Sept. 30, 13.2 million residents are active registered voters. Of that number, a little more than 3.5 million have no party affiliation; more than 99,322 are in minor parties; 4.6 million are registered Republicans and 4.9 million are registered, Democrats. We, as African-Americans and as Democrats, outweigh any other party. If we vote, we win.
To break it down in Leon County: according to the Supervisor of Elections, as of Oct. 9, there are 213,195 registered voters in the county. Of that amount, Republicans account for 58,012 registered voters; 43,406 are categorized as “others,” and 111,777 Democrats have registered to vote.
Just three months ago, on Aug. 28, there were 108,363 eligible Democrats and 56,998 registered Republicans; followed by 40,048 non-partisan voters and 1,423 labeled as “other.”
Now more than ever, people are exercising the right to vote. It is now clear that if we vote, we win. If we don't, we lose.