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The Dartmouth
February 26, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Verbum Ultimum: Don’t Forget to Vote

New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary is tomorrow, Jan. 23, and it’s imperative that everyone who can turns out to vote.

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Tomorrow, a special ritual that happens only once every four years will occur. All over New Hampshire, voters will turn out to select who they want their party to nominate for the presidency. You, too, should be one of these voters. 

Primaries are essential because they set the tone for the following elections. Candidates themselves are the centerpiece of American politics, and if turnout is low, the primary is more likely to select a candidate that doesn’t represent what interests the general public. New Hampshire’s primary is uniquely influential, being the first one nationwide and setting the tone for all the primaries that follow. Unless you have a strong reason for voting in your home state’s primary, we urge you to cast a ballot tomorrow.

The primary is designed to allow voters to speak their minds and support a candidate who most closely aligns with their views. But, for that process to work as intended, turnout has to be high. Our country needs competent leaders, but not enough voters realize that the primary is just as important as the general election to ensure that the right people get the job.

Perhaps you want to support an incumbent who you think has done a good job. Or, perhaps you’re fed up and want to see someone else run instead. Regardless, if you don’t vote, others will, and the candidate they like most may be one you think takes worrying policy positions, says outrageous things or has a questionable past. If that candidate secures your party’s nomination, you’re stuck with them in the race. Primaries are essential to ensuring that you have an option in the general election whom you feel excited about voting for, and not just one who you think is the “least bad” option.

This year’s primary is especially contentious. On the Republican side, former President Donald Trump seeks to protect his seat at the head of his party from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. The importance of this vote for the future of the Republican party is hard to overstate. On the Democratic side, President Joe Biden defends his position from Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips, who argues that the President’s unpopularity risks handing the White House back to Trump.

Those considering voting in the Democratic primary may have reservations this year about whether the party will actually count New Hampshire’s choices in its national convention. The Democratic National Convention sought to schedule South Carolina’s primary before New Hampshire’s, but when the New Hampshire Democratic party proceeded to schedule its primary first, the DNC threatened that New Hampshire delegates won’t count. As the Associated Press reports, “It was Biden’s idea to bump the state from its prized primary calendar slot in favor of South Carolina, which resuscitated his struggling campaign in 2020.” In turn, Biden has declined to register to appear on the ballot or campaign in New Hampshire, although some supporters are running a write-in campaign for him.

Regardless of what the DNC does in the end, it’s essential that Democratic party voters still turn out to vote in the primary. The results will be closely watched as a signal of President Biden’s political viability, even if the delegates don’t count in the end. In normal years, New Hampshire’s delegates are rarely the deciding factor in nominations, but the signal they send serves as the candidates’ first field test. This still holds true this year.

Looking back at history, incumbent President Lyndon Johnson also ran as a write-in in the 1968 New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, but he dropped out after winning it by only eight points. Ironically, the opponent he beat by that disappointing margin was Eugene McCarthy, a U.S. Senator from Minnesota. Biden supporters will want to turn out to mitigate the chance history repeats itself, while Biden opponents will see if they can make this strategy work again. Regardless of which view you may hold, not voting only helps the other side.

Tomorrow, voters of all persuasions have an opportunity to participate in a key moment in U.S. history that will undoubtedly have ramifications far beyond 2024. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Hanover High School. We encourage everyone who can to vote and make your voice heard.

The editorial board consists of opinion staff columnists, the opinion editors, the executive editors and the editor-in-chief.