November 6, 2007

Suffering Suffragette

Today was an election day in the US albeit a minor one. Where I live, the only offices and issues up for election were city council, community college trusties and funding for public transportation. These odd year elections tend to be light affairs but I feel that they're worth my time. If you missed the election and are curious about what was on the ballot, check your county's web site.

I also wanted to make a quick (read long) comment about voting. Every other year, I hear otherwise intelligent friends and relatives saying this: "My vote doesn't count because I'm a conservative and my state is so liberal." Another favorite is "only sucker idealists throw their vote away by voting for a third party candidate." These attitudes don't make sense.

Barring election fraud (which is an entirely different issue), your vote always counts unless you don't vote. Unfortunately, people think about elections like sports or gambling. They want to vote for the candidate that wins instead of the candidate that they think deserves to win. That's the kind of jump-on-the-bandwagon attitude that gives Iowa and New Hampshire such disproportionate weight in the primaries. Your vote counts just as much no matter who you vote for.

Furthermore, think about the obvious; politicians pay attention to polls. A politician that wins by 35 points can have sex with a farm animal in a public place confident of winning the next election, while a 3 point win will keep a candidate from so much as sneezing inappropriately on camera. If your vote makes an election race tighter, you better believe that matters.

I'm not saying "Vote or Die" or "voting is a sacred political act" or anything that ridiculous. If you don't want to vote, fine. There are many legitimate reasons not to vote. What I am saying is that not voting because the candidate you like is not going to win is cowardly. Also, ignoring your choice candidate in favor of a different candidate because they are more popular and might win is self-defeating.

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