Why You Need to Vote

Midterm elections are being held in the U.S. on November 7. Midterms, which are called that because they are for open seats in the federal House of Representatives and Senate but not the President, tend to have low voter turnouts. That is a huge mistake. If you’re a U.S. citizen (and 85 percent of my readers are in the U.S.), I urge you to vote. Certainly, the other 15 percent of my readers care that you do.

Are you fully satisfied with the way our government is running? If not, it’s up to you to help change it. If you do, the people doing the work need your support so they can stay there and do it.

Also, most states have ballot proposals for voters to decide during the midterms. Do you really want such things as marital rights, minimum wage laws, immigration reform, and other important issues to be decided by a tiny majority — the few who traditionally turn out for midterms? More than half the states elect their governors during midterms, too, and naturally there are plenty of other positions up for grabs from state legislators on down to your county or town’s functionaries.

Voting is your turn to step up and elect the people who represent you. And it’s your opportunity to vote against the people who haven’t represented your interests, and to vote for the people who do.

I rag on politicians a lot (and they usually deserve it), but the fact is that’s the system we have, and I can’t think of a better one. It’s not perfect, but ignoring it doesn’t make it go away, it allows it to get worse. Anyone who can vote and doesn’t is quite simply letting others have more say over your life than you do. If you don’t vote, don’t even think about complaining about what happens next.

I’ll be voting next Tuesday. If you’re one of the 85 percent, please join me. As I found when traveling abroad just before the last presidential election, much of the rest of the world really does care what happens next.

October 30 Update

I got a profound reply to the above from Premium subscriber Lauren in California:

I used to have this philosophy: If you were white, male, and a landowner, you didn’t have to vote. Those were the people who were originally guaranteed a vote under the Constitution. Everyone else — Blacks and Latinos, Pacific Islanders and Asians, Native Americans, women, and people who rent — had to fight (sometimes financially, sometimes socially, sometimes with their lives) for the right to vote. People who benefit from that fight owe a debt that must be repaid on each election day. Then I realized that a whole bunch of white, male landowners also fought for the right to vote, way back at the beginning before they ever got a chance to call the Constitutional Convention. The men who suffered and died at Valley Forge bought the right to vote for others as surely as did people like Medgar Evers and Lucretia Mott. (OK, the suffragettes didn’t die for the right to vote. It wasn’t a fighting-and-dying war. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t a war. Most Freedom Riders didn’t die either, which doesn’t change the fact that Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner were.)

So now I think that people should imagine walking up to the representative battler-for-votes of their choice and having to defend their decision not to exercise their franchise. I guess most Blacks would imagine walking up to Martin Luther King Jr or Ida B. Wells, most women to Susan B. Anthony or Jeannette Rankin, but there’s no law saying someone can’t be touched by the bravery and dedication of someone of a different gender and/or race than them. I can’t imagine how I would explain to Patrick Henry that I have decided, ‘Hey, YOU wanted death if not liberty, but I just don’t want to be bothered on election day.’ It’s a hot button issue for me, which is why I’m now a poll inspector, seven elections and counting.

Hear hear, Lauren. As for the rest of you, think about what your forebears went through so you could vote. And then tell me again why it’s not worth your bother?

3 Comments on “Why You Need to Vote

  1. I’ll say something truly controversial: I can’t be bothered to stand in line on election day.

    For the past 2 decades I’ve researched the laws on absentee ballots in every state I’ve lived in, and usually found a legal reason to request one. (It’s particularly easy in California — absentee ballots are available on request to anyone. If I forget to mail my ballot I can drop it in the box at any polling place in the state.)

    Voting is an important right that I’m proud to exercise. Standing in line to vote is something I’ll avoid.

    I don’t have any problem with that. The important thing is to vote; not “how.” Here in Colorado, we’ve actually been encouraged to get on the permanent mail-in ballot list; I think they consider those more likely to be used. -rc

  2. I often help out one of the political parties here around election time, dropping leaflets through letterboxes, and sometimes dropping “don’t forget to vote today” cards through on polling day.

    On many times I have said to people I meet something along the lines of “even if you don’t want to vote for THIS party, please remember to just go and VOTE”.

    In England, there is no excuse to NOT vote: as long as you take action when the official voting cards arrive, you can get a postal vote.

    I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: If you DO like what the people who represent you are doing, you agree with them, you support their efforts, then you owe it to them to vote for them. If you DON’T like what they’re doing, you owe it to everyone (including yourself) to vote for someone else. To do nothing, and then whine about the state of affairs, is absurd. If you don’t vote, you have no basis to complain about things. So vote, or shut up. There is no other alternative. -rc

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