I have always been one to encourage people to vote when it comes to elections. I have encouraged others to vote for reasons I was taught growing up and as an American citizen. Reasons like: every vote counts; voting is an investment in the future; voting is a civic duty; if you don’t vote, you can’t complain; and, voting is fun . . . plus you get a cool sticker announcing to the world that “I voted”! I have also encouraged people to vote so that we can end all the mud-slinging and nastiness that now symbolize political elections in our nation, and lay to rest another election until the next one crawls out from under the rock.
For years the wife and I canceled out the other’s vote when it came to elections . . . it seemed that we were always nullifying the other’s vote by the choices that we made. For a while now we have been on the same page . . . and, I am not sure which one of us changed and jumped to the winning side . . . but, we have quit canceling out each other’s votes when we go to the polls. I always believed that every vote was important . . . that every vote counted; but, the truth of the matter is that my vote, nor your vote, is really going to make a difference in the outcome of any election. It is a snow ball’s chance in hell long shot of any election ever being determined by a single vote . . . yours, mine, or anyone else’s. Never in the history of the United States has an election for president been decided by one vote . . . only seven congressional or senate elections since 1898 were won by a single vote (and, and two others were actually tied) . . . the average margin of victory in an election is in the 20 to 25 percent range. A person would have better luck buying a lottery ticket than having his or her vote be the deciding ballot in any election.
Does our vote make a difference? I don’t really know, but I know that I have told people to vote because it does make a difference . . . and, we believe that.
We have all been told that voting is our civic duty . . . it is patriotic . . . it is what any good citizen does. It is our privilege as an American to vote . . . it is our right . . . and, we have a responsibility to vote as repayment to those who fought so hard for our nation to be a free and democratic country. Yet, there is no law that mandates us to vote. No law enforcement officers come knocking on our doors with warrants for our arrest if we choose not to vote or forget to vote. In fact, nation-wide, probably less than 30 percent of those people eligible to vote will even vote. None of us wants to be seen as un-American . . . so, I encourage you to get out there and vote . . . whether your vote matters or not.
Another reason that I have often encouraged others to vote is to help them avoid being hypocritical . . . if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. This is one that I have bought into lock, stock, and barrel for years because it makes sense to me . . . but, what does complaining have to do with voting. If less than 30 percent of our nation’s registered voters even vote it should be a heck of a lot quieter following an election than it ever is . . . a whole lot less whining, complaining, and lamenting. The bottom line is that complaining is just as “American” as voting . . . it is a right and privilege given to us through the founders of our nation. Besides, people are going to complain no matter what . . . win or lose. That’s the “American” way!
Voting is fun . . . voting is fun because we like the message our voting sends out to others . . . that we are civic minded . . . that we are politically active . . . that we care . . . that we are American. Voting makes us look good. That little red, white, and blue sticker announcing to the word that we voted says a lot about us. Voting is like going to a sporting event pitting two teams against each other . . . volleying back and forth in sudden death . . . until the victor is declared. We enjoy competition. Voting is cheap entertainment . . . it doesn’t cost us a cent to vote. Besides, when it is all said and done, we are all arm-chair politicians in the end.
On the eve of the election . . . should any of us vote? Well, after reading two well-written articles (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/06/magazine/06freak.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 and http://reason.com/archives/2012/10/03/your-vote-doesnt-count/) about voting and our reasons for voting, I am not so certain any more. At least not for the reasons I used to base my voting on . . . they made me think about why I was voting. But, in the end, I am still going to vote for whatever reasons.
I am going to vote because it is one of the few “free” things still left in the world that any of us can do. I am going to do it because I want to be in the minority of most citizens of the United States . . . that less than 30 percent that actually goes out and votes. That will sort of make me special . . . I could use a little “specialness” in my life. I want to vote because there are worse ways that I could spend ten minutes of my life. And, I want to vote because I really, really like those cool stickers that you get when you vote.
Win or lose . . . I am still going to vote . . . for whatever reasons I might believe and have. You should too.