All throughout this crazy year, I have been inviting people to vote. There are stark reminders every day of the difference between bad or absent or incompetent or self-serving “leadership”, and what’s possible under competent leaders. And so today I’d like to extend a special invitation to those who say “My vote doesn’t matter” with these responses…
My vote doesn’t matter; TLDR version: In short, this question: if your vote doesn’t matter, then why are they doing all they can to violate your right to vote, both in ability and in its impact? Whether it be by closing polling places, or implementing unnecessary and onerous voting ID and registration issues, or making information difficult to discover, or participating in extreme gerrymandering, or linking voting rights to the paying of fines and fees, or attacking mail in voting, or creating a false panic about fraud, or simply to engage in behavior that is designed to put you off voting, there is so a lot being done to decrease voter turnout. And they cement it in place by fostering that very feeling you have, that feeling that your vote doesn’t matter. They want you to think it doesn’t matter, that it’s too hard, that you’re better off staying home and just not vote. Because they know that the less people vote, the easier it is for them to influence the outcome. The more people they can get to tune out, and the more roadblocks they can throw in the way, the greater the impact of their fervent base upon which they can count on to show up while at the same time making it easy for their base to vote. Which, in turn, makes it easy to gain the power. By doing all this they get to break the system and choose their electorate, not, as it should be, the other way around. To that, I say no. Please vote.
My vote doesn’t matter: I’m just one person: Well, yes, that is true, you are just one person. And so am I. And so are they. And so is everyone else. And that’s just it… keep adding all the “one persons” and in no time you’ve got a serious mass of people. Again, it’s falling into their wishes, that many people feel insignificant and so they don’t vote, which suddenly becomes a mass of people that aren’t voting. But just as the single sheet of paper does not weigh much, yet a case of paper weighs a whole lot, there is power in numbers. Please vote.
My vote doesn’t matter; I’m just one person, part 2: In addition to the above, there are dozens and dozens of recent elections where the margin of victory was decidedly small, as in the in the single digit percentages small. The last USA presidential election itself was decided by .09% of all votes cast. And given only 55% of people cast ballots, there were plenty of “doesn’t matters” who could have mattered and made a difference. Please vote.
My vote doesn’t matter; I’m in a place that always votes X anyway: Well, maybe that’s the case for certain races, but it’s not likely the case for all races, especially as we drill down to the local level. And every single race is important – most of what affects your day-to-day life isn’t what the President or Prime-Minister does, it’s what happens on your local council. Or at the county level. Or what the local attorney general does. Or, moving up, what happens at your State/Province level. And even at Federal level if you live in the USA, there are three different races going on at the same time (senate/house/president) and your vote can be highly influential in one of those arenas even if the other two are ‘locked up’. Plus, again, even in ‘sure bet’ races, when all the “don’t matters” choose to vote and make their voices known, surprises can happen. Please vote.
My vote doesn’t matter; They don’t cater to my needs or listen to my wants: So, here’s the thing about campaigns – they are just like sports. There are plays and strategies that are known to work that have been honed through repetition and countless games. And the winning play is to focus on those you know will show up at the polls. If the candidates are not listening to your requests, it may be because they have little incentive to do so. (This happened to one of the major candidates during the recent primary – they made their bid on enticing young voters who did not show up to vote, which, unfortunately, reinforced the status quo of only listening to those who are the most likely to show up at the polls.) It may seem like a chicken and egg problem, but if you want them to listen you need to show that you are part of the game. You need to vote and to let them see that you vote. Once you’re on the field, you have leverage. Once in the game, you have their ear. Then you can direct things in the direction you want. That’s what voting is for: to have a voice. Please vote.
My vote doesn’t matter; It’s all rigged anyway: For one, I’ll point to the above and say again that in the myriad of races there are some where rigging is not possible, or at least more difficult, and your vote can very much swing things. For two, one of the reasons that they can rig things is explicitly because people tune out and not vote, which grants them the reins to game the system and control things like districting (leading to extreme gerrymandering) or to engage in corruption with no one watching or pushing back. For three, even when things have been massaged and suppressed people showing up in big numbers can overrun the rigging and put in place candidates who can undo the mess. Please vote.
My vote doesn’t matter; They’re all jerks or crooks anyway: This is one of the “funny” things about how things shake out. If no one cares to watch the henhouse, then the foxes move in and take all the positions of power. Moreover, if everyone says only jerks or crooks take the job, then the only people who choose to go there are either already jerks/crooks or are willing to be such. It’s drifted to this point. It can be pushed back. Please vote.
My vote doesn’t matter; They’re all jerks anyway, part 2: Plus, consider that being a jerk is actually an explicit part their strategy to stay in abusive power by getting you to not vote. They want you to think all politicians operate like them such that you get so disgusted with the whole process that you tune out. Again, so much the better for them because they know with less turnout they can win and therefore continue their crooked and corrupt and crook ways. Attention and sunlight kills all that. Please vote.
My vote doesn’t matter; It’s too hard and confusing and I can’t spare the time and energy to do and really it’s simply easier for me to think I don’t matter: Yeah, it is easier to think that, isn’t it? They’ve put so much friction in the way that why bother, it’s just too much to deal with on top of everything else we’ve got to do. To that, two things. The first is that, fortunately, there are dozens of resources out there to take the confusion and the “hard” out of the way. In the USA, there’s vote.org to check your registration, there’s the aptly named YouTube series titled “How To Vote In Every State”, there’s Ballotpedia.org that provides in-depth overviews about races in your area (choose “What’s On My Ballot” from the sidebar), and more. Or simply Google your city name + Sample Ballot. There are all sorts of places to give you the skinny on what’s at stake, and how to ensure your voice is heard.
The second brings us back full circle to that first TLDR point, which is that the hardness and confusion and disgust is very much a part of their strategy. Voting originally belonged to a very small class of voters (primarily white male landowners) and they have fought like hell to keep it from being extended to anyone else. Every time voting gets subjected to a constitutional test and a new group gets the voice to vote, this small class has worked tirelessly to make it difficult for that new group to actually exercise that right.
Forget voting as our “duty.” Think of voting as “how can I annoy those jerks?” and keep at the front of your mind those jerks are hoping you won’t show up to do it. And that they’ll outright lie and work to suppress the vote through false narratives, closing polling places, futzing up the mail, all the way down to literally removing people’s names improperly from voting records (as just came to light in GA).
So don’t just vote to Make a Better City/State/Province/Country. Vote to make those asses scared of you.
(And remember that if you plan to vote absentee or by mail, please request your ballot now, do the research while it’s on its way to you, and complete and send it out (or drop it off to an approved location) as soon as you can.)