Show Up and Vote!

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“Every election is determined by the people who show up.”

– Larry J. Sabato , Pendulum Swing

A democracy is defined as “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.”[1]  Because a democracy requires the participation of all the eligible members of a state, we must vote.  It is our duty as a citizen of this country.  Otherwise, elections are determined not by the majority of the citizens but by those citizens who bothered to show up.  That is not a democracy; it is an oligarchy.  A few govern the many.

In presidential elections since 2000, voter turnout has hovered around 60%.[2]  That means that 40% of voters did not bother to show up.  Of those who did show up, it took little more than 30% of voters to determine those elections.[3]  Think about this:  less than a third of voters are deciding how you live, how much tax you pay, and who will make decisions about your life in the future.  Are you comfortable with that?  Particularly if you were not one of those voters?

This also means that, in a close election, only a two percent swing could change the outcome.  I’ve heard people who didn’t vote say that their vote would not have mattered anyway.  Or some people, particularly in the 2016 presidential election, said they didn’t vote because they didn’t like either candidate.  But that is still a vote:

By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”

– David Foster Wallace, Simba!

The harm of failing to vote is demonstrated by recent history.  Some elections have been close, one being decided by as little as two votes.[4]  If just three people who had stayed home had shown up and cast a ballot, the outcome of the election might have changed.

So make a difference by showing up on election day.  You decide who you want making decisions affecting your life and vote for her or him.  You decide whether you want to pay more taxes and how you want them spent and vote on those issues.  But for heaven’s sake, don’t stay home and let someone else make those decisions for you.

 

[1] Oxford Dictionary, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/democracy

[2] Bipartisan Policy Center, https://bipartisanpolicy.org/press-release/2012-election-turnout-dips-below-2008-and-2004-levels-number-eligible/

[3] This number may be even less in presidential elections involving the electoral college, as it was in 2016 when Donald Trump was elected president with 2.9 million fewer votes than his opponent Hillary Clinton.  FoxNews, https://fox2now.com/2016/12/21/popular-vote-finalized-in-presidential-election/;  CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2016/12/21/politics/donald-trump-hillary-clinton-popular-vote-final-count/index.html.

[4] National Public Radio, https://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2013/11/12/244812040/close-closer-closest-a-guide-to-election-photo-finishes

 

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