Election Day is around the corner, taking place on Nov. 8. The ballot will present options to vote for the Senate, House of Representatives and eight proposed amendments to Louisiana’s constitution.

Republican John Neely Kennedy’s views on the issues include a pro-life stance on abortion, support to finish building the border wall, prioritizing control over inflation, support for increasing the supply of oil and gas and a strong stance against gun control.

Gary Chambers of the Democratic Party is one of Kennedy’s most likely contenders, with his bold online ads gaining much attention. In one ad with millions of views, Chambers can be seen smoking marijuana, in his support of legalizing the drug. Chambers supports pro-choice advocates, free higher education and funding for public schools, background checks on guns as well as a ban on military-grade weapons.

With Kennedy being a Republican in a red state and raising 10 times as much as the Democratic challengers combined, the odds are stacked against the other candidates. The House of Representatives may face a similar issue, with Clay Higgins serving as a Republican favored by a red state.

The fact that these incumbent candidates have a firm hand over the elections may prove a bit disheartening. Reasons like these are why citizens abstain from voting. Whether it’s a scenario where no candidate appropriately represents the voter or a difficult race to win, many people use this reasoning to avoid elections entirely.

While I can see the reasoning behind these arguments to not vote, I want to give stronger reasons to participate in voting. 

The most important reason to vote is that the opinions of the people should matter. To make progress and improvements in government, we must take any means necessary to make our voices heard, and vote for what will best represent us. Increasing voter turnout will help provide a more effective avenue for citizens to make political changes.

If you do not vote that means that nothing is being done for the important issues that currently divide the United States of America. 

Topics like reproductive rights, the legal status of drugs, gun control, education and the environment are all problems that fall into the hands of our representatives. To make any difference on these issues, voting is extremely important.

Even if you do not endorse any candidate entirely, most of the time a candidate will at least have some views in common with your own. For example, if you do not approve of any candidate running, choose the topics you are most passionate about, and vote for the candidate that endorses them.

Voting and elections are not a perfect system by any means. Lack of funding, lobbying and the issues above are some flaws of it. However, actively voting can help to improve this as well. A flawed voting system should not stay in place, and it is up to American voters to endorse candidates that propose solutions to this, just like any other political issue.

Even if positive changes are a long time coming, we should try our best to make them a reality through voting. Despite when these changes come into effect.

Abstaining from voting can be a reasonable choice, but to prove what the people truly need, we all need to prioritize voting for candidates when it is possible.

For more information regarding state elections, visit Louisiana’s Secretary of State website, and view the Geaux Vote app for a preview of the candidates and voting locations.