I won’t even mention who I voted for. If you follow my tweets, you’ll know.
Instead, I wanted to talk a bit about the act of voting. Because over the course of the day, I encountered several people that didn’t believe their vote mattered.
It started this morning as I was standing in the hour-long line to vote. I was perky even though it was early and I’m the quintessential anti-morning person. The people around me were friendly and patient and that’s what I always love about election day — it’s a chance to see your neighbors (or my parent’s neighbors as the case may be), and really participate in a local community event.
So, there I was, chatting with the woman in front of me when another lady walked up to vote. My polling location has two precincts attached to it and she didn’t know which she belonged to. She had just moved, and was asking for help. Come to find out, she was at the wrong polling location. She turned away from the election volunteers and said to no one in particular: “F*ck it, I’m not going to vote. It’s not worth it.” And walked away.
The woman I was talking to said Yes it is! and I nodded my head in agreement. It saddened me that this person was probably only a few miles away from her actual polling location, but didn’t see the worth in casting her vote.
The second interaction was with some coworkers, one of whom hadn’t voted yet. He made the comment that he wasn’t going to wait hours and hours to vote — that it wasn’t worth it. Presumably, he’d wait for a short time, but would draw the line somewhere once he assessed his polling location this evening.
Finally, there have been several blogs and other random conversations throughout the day about the idea that our individual votes don’t really matter because of our pesky electoral college.
Which I get.
But I don’t think that’s the only point in voting. Sure, the main point is electing someone or something, but the other, and argueably equally important point, is simply participating in the act of voting.
Participating in the act counts, even if your choice maybe doesn’t “count” as much because of our election process.
Voting allows each of us to stand up and say that we support something. It’s about our right to get involved in government and have a say. No matter how minor that say is, it’s about the act. The right.
Our soldiers risk their lives to defend freedoms like voting. Not just the process we use to elect our representativs — but the act and the idea of voting. And this isn’t about our current controversial war, any elementary school History textbook will tell you that’s what our country and our military was founded on.
Then there’s the reality that not everyone is allowed to participate in the act of voting. On the other side of the world, people aren’t allowed to vote. They can’t stand up and say “I support X” without fear of persecution or death.
So, I just don’t get the people I encountered today saying their vote isn’t worth it. Even if they believe that because of the election process, they should at least see that the act matters. It’s part of a freedom that we take for granted.
I’ll even include myself in that group. I’m guilty of not voting in every election. While I vote for the major stuff, I usually skip the local elections and primaries. Part of it is because I vote in a city where I’m now only a resident because of my driver’s license, therefore a lot of the local choices don’t impact me; and part of it is my general laziness.
I’ve always known I should do better, but my excuses kept me warm at night. But, I want to make a commitment to be better about not taking for granted the act of filling in that circle or pulling that lever.
And I hope you don’t take it for granted, either.