It’s easy to convince yourself not to vote. While the 2020 presidential election had a record high turnout for the 21st century, that still represented just 66.8% of citizens 18 years and older who participated. Midterm elections tend to yield significantly fewer voters. In many other nations around the globe, people still die for the right to play a role in free and fair elections. If you’ve managed to convince yourself that you needn’t exercise your right to vote, here is a laundry list of bad excuses that might talk you off the bench.
1) My single vote is just that; it hardly matters in a nation of millions.
Well, maybe, but what if the millions feel the same as you? There go the millions. Have a look at how close some of the vote counts have been in a number of highly contested races and you are likely to change your mind. Your vote matters.
2) I’m really busy and I don’t have the time to vote.
Well, maybe, but think about something you could trade for the time that you won’t miss, perhaps an hour of social media scrolling, television reality shows, or arguing with others about their poor election choices.
3) Voting is so inconvenient.
Well, maybe, but if going to a physical voting booth is not your thing, in almost every state there is some form of a mail-in ballot you can fill out anywhere and drop in a mailbox. If you need assistance getting to the polls, there are free or reduced-cost transportation resources available in many municipalities.
4) Most of the candidates fall into two parties and I don’t like either of them.
Well, maybe, but no rule says you have to vote strictly along party lines. Vote for the individual who best aligns with your needs, choices, and values.
5) Those ballot initiatives are too complicated and are meant to trick people.
Well, maybe, but there are plain language summaries of every initiative published online, in local newspapers, and in widely distributed brochures that can help you cut through the foggy language.
6) I don’t trust the election establishment and think fraud is deeply embedded in the system.
Well, maybe, but if you study the research, there is scant evidence of widespread election fraud, and the best way to overcome the possibility of fraud is for elections to be won decisively with huge turnouts.
7) I like identifying as being outside the system and not part of corruption.
Well, maybe, but if you live in the same nation as those who vote and you choose not to vote, the same laws apply to you. Your outsider status doesn’t exclude you from compliance with the laws others make. Letting those who vote elect officials to make laws for those who don’t vote seems like an awful concession. Where voter intimidation is in play, standing up for your right to vote seems more consequential than ever.
8) The candidates are idiots and I don’t want to endorse idiots.
Well, maybe, but even if the candidates aren’t up to your standards, you still might want to offer a stack ranking. Your opinion of relative competence can only be included in outcomes if you submit a ballot.
9) Campaign commercials, lawn signs, and debates are just icky, meaningless rhetoric.
Well, maybe, but choosing not to vote when you’re offended doesn’t give voice to your offense, it just rewards those behind the ickiness by silencing your repulsion.
10) I just don’t feel valued as a voter and don’t think elections matter to my everyday life.
Well, maybe, but if that kind of apathy becomes widespread, it becomes much easier for autocrats to seize control and take away the choices you may someday regret losing.
The right to vote should never be taken for granted. Wars have been fought and lives sacrificed to protect this sacred right. You will be compelled to pay taxes, but you won’t be compelled to vote. They sort of go together, so don’t give up your right willingly. Those who allocate your financial resources will still send you a tax bill whether or not you like how they spend your money.
Voting may seem bothersome, abstract, or elusive in representing your point of view, but it always matters and can never be surrendered. Rational and heartfelt thinking are the main hopes we have for transforming bad behavior into good behavior. Listening and learning are all part of the process of bringing positive change. Sitting on the sidelines doesn’t make a statement, it avoids one. If it doesn’t go your way this time around, there’s always next time, and the time after that, and the time after that.
Never give up hope. Protect your right by exercising it every time you can. Please, get out the vote.