While 70 percent of Americans say they believe that high voter turnout in presidential elections is important, only 56 percent of Americans who were of the voting age voted in the 2016 presidential election according to Pew Research Center. And even though approximately 245 million Americans were of age to vote that year, only 157.6 million were actually registered.

As we get ready for the upcoming presidential election, it is important to remember that exercising your right to vote is one of the truest aspects of democracy. When our country was first founded, the original constitution only allowed property-owing tax-paying white males to vote. Since then, there has been tremendous effort to ensure that people of color and women have the same right.

If you’re wondering if your vote actually makes a difference, it’s important for you to learn that it very much does. Many elections have come down to a very small difference in voter numbers. In 2009, Senator Al Franken won his seat by only 312 votes. In 2008, a single vote out of 10,035 decided the Alaska congressional race. And in 1974, two votes out of 102,066 decided the Senate election in New Hampshire.

If you’re not sure who to vote for, or who’s ideas you most align with, there are plenty of places on the internet to find out which candidate best suits your viewpoints.

I recently took a quiz on The questions were varied and detailed, and my answers could be dialed in which made it better than just having “yes or no” options. I was somewhat surprised by the results, but looking more closely, they also made sense.

I encourage each and every American to vote. It is one of the most direct ways to influence what our country will become in the years to come.

Lisa Petty