Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day 2010: Go Vote Already!

Mid-term elections are here! The polls are still open, get out and vote already! True to Words is a politically neutral entity (even if I'm not), but the act of voting is non-partisan. So I'm posting today to remind you to VOTE and take a friend or two with you while you're at it.

Though about 50 to 60% of all voting age citizens turn up at the polls every four years for the presidential elections, only about 30 to 40% participate in mid-term or local elections. Conversely, I'd say 100% of our population complains about their representation (completely making that up, but it sounds good - and fairly accurate). Yet, if you didn't cast your vote, you didn't make your voice heard, and it’s hard to blame your representative. After all, they're just doing what they were asked by the people who elected them. And that especially wasn't you if you didn't vote at all.

Instead of allowing your choice to be made for you by others without adding your 2 cents, go out and vote for the person or persons who best represent your interests. Yes, it can be inconvenient and yes, it takes time and yes, you might have to stand in line and, YES, even after all of your effort, there is always the distinct possibility that your candidate will lose. But win or lose, your vote counted for something. Yes, it did.
"But I'm just one person! My vote won't make a difference."

That's what lots of people say. When looking at the big numbers of vote totals, it can seem like your vote would be lost in the throng. So I'll use small, easy numbers to show just how valuable your vote is. Simple is better anyway, 'cause Dammit, Jim, I'm a wordsmith, not a mathematician!

In comparison to the millions of people that live in a state like, say, Minnesota, how small of a number is 225? Pretty small, that’s smaller than the high school class with which I graduated. That's a big wedding guest list or a really small town.

225 votes sent Senator Al Franken to Washington and sent Norm Coleman packing in the 2008 elections. That's 225 people who might have thought their vote wouldn't make a big difference either, but they made the trip. In the end, their candidate won.

How about 537? A little less than twice as many people. But 537 votes made the electoral difference in Florida to send George W. Bush to the White House instead of Al Gore. 537 people who went to the polls, despite the fact that it was raining (I've been watching CNN). It's beautiful outside, you don't have that excuse!

These are just the federal-level races that in recent years made national headlines. In local district, county, and city/town elections, where population pools are the smallest and where government has the greatest direct impact on individuals, the margins of victory and defeat can be even smaller. Especially in these cases, voting every four years instead of every two really is unacceptable. If more people chose to participate in the mid-term elections, we would have a far more accurately representative government overall – from the local level all the way to the top.

Need one more reason to vote? When January comes and it is time again to complain about the new things our senators and representatives are doing to piss us off, don't discredit how immensely satisfying it is to say "Hey, I didn't vote for him/her, I voted for the smart one!"

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