Should you really vote?

Today we’ll be discussing a question that comes up a lot during election time:  Is it worth my time to vote?  Before heading to the polls, each of us asks ourselves this question at least once.

My wise answer:  Maybe.  That ought to rile you guys up.

As with anything else in life, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of voting before deciding whether it’s worth our time.  So, instead of using the usual “it’s your civic duty” terms we usually see, let’s examine whether it’s really a good idea.

Reasons to vote:

  • You like a candidate’s views and want them made into policy.  There’s no better reason to vote than this because you’re using your vote to push for changes you believe in.
  • You belong to a political party and want to support that party.  In my mind, this reason is a little less awesome because it doesn’t take into account the actual person running for office.  However, if you really support the platform of one party versus another, this is a perfectly reasonable reason to vote.
  • You and your family have always voted for some particular party.  To me, not a great reason.  Instead of falling back on tradition, take a look at the candidates and the parties and see if you believe what they’re saying.  If you do, then vote for them.  If not, maybe you’ll change your vote.  An informed decision is always better than a traditional decision.
  • Your demographic group will get more attention.  If the only people voting are white elderly people, you can be sure that the people in office will tailor their policies to better serve them.  Even if you know your demographic group won’t carry the election, they’ll be more likely to take you seriously.  Here’s an interesting story about demographics: LINK.
  • You support the idea of a third party and want to give them a boost.  Voting like this is a vote to change the system rather than a vote for any particular person/party.  However, this is arguably a good reason to make your voice heard.
  • It’s your right, so you need to do it.  This is a pretty bad argument.  After all, I have the right to worship Satan, hold a rally for the KKK, and (in my state) cover myself with pistols and wander around in front of a school.  Yes, these are my rights, but just because I have them doesn’t mean I have to use them.
  • You have a responsibility to participate in the administration of our government.  Though you wouldn’t know it by looking at our lawmakers, in our country their power is derived from the people.  If the people ignore this responsibility, we just give them free reign to do whatever they want.

Reasons not to vote:

  • You honestly don’t care who wins.  What if you look at all of the candidates and the party platforms and decide that you honestly don’t care who wins?  It seems stranger that you should choose one at random and vote for them.  If you honestly don’t care which person wins, and if there are no other issues on the ballot that you care about, then it makes sense not to vote.
  • Voting is a pain in the butt.  Yes, going to the polling station and voting is a pain in the butt.  However, if you feel that one candidate is better than another, this pain in the butt shouldn’t keep you from voting.  Is it really that hard?  Plus, absentee ballots are a thing.
  • Your vote won’t make a difference.  This is true in almost every electionWith almost being the key term.  If you care about who wins, maybe yours will come up.  Admittedly, however, this isn’t the most compelling reason to vote.
  • You want to make the statement that the people are disenfranchised from their government.  Though it’s clear from the number of people voting that this is the case, it’s not clear why any governmental officials should care about this.  After all, your outrage isn’t going to get them elected, so why should they care?  If you want to show that you’re outraged, vote for the candidate you like the most and then send him/her letters to express how you feel.

So, using the pros and cons above, should you vote?  I don’t know.  Look at these reasons and determine for yourself whether you think it’s a good idea.  It’s your right as a citizen to vote, but also your right not to vote.  How you use your right is up to you.

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