Doad and I have voted; have you? If you’re a US citizen over 18, I don’t want to hear any stupid justifications; I’m sick of it. Don’t tell me that you and your significant other aren’t voting because you’d cancel each other out; you’re not that stupid! I’m especially sick of hearing that you may as well not vote (or vote for a third-party candidate) because your state is sure to go with one candidate or the other. There are still good reasons why you should turn out and vote for the candidate you support.
Yes, there are ballot measures and local offices that you should weigh in on; California’s propositions cover everything from money in politics to the death penalty and are going to have a major impact. Yes, sometimes even an election that seems like a surety can go the other way if the favored candidate’s supporters don’t turn out. But the main reason, I think, is this: Because voting demographics influence more than the outcome of the election.
Even in a state where the outcome is sure, voting for the favored candidate still adds to the national popular vote. While the popular vote doesn’t actually decide anything, those of us who were around in 2000 know what a mess you get when the popular vote and the electoral vote don’t align. Casting a vote for the leading candidate helps prevent that possibility. On the other hand, if you support the trailing candidate, a giant mess benefits you, so you should still cast your vote and narrow the popular vote.
Additionally, even if it doesn’t really influence the outcome, voting empowers your demographic. If a state has a high voter turnout, that encourages candidates to focus future campaigns on that state and craft their platforms in a way that favors it; if a certain demographic, like students or retired people, turn out in large numbers for one candidate, then they become an important part of that party’s base and also an important demographic for the other party to try to recapture. In other words, politicians pander to the people who might affect them, and while your location and demographics might not rank high on that list, by not voting, you’re voluntarily removing yourself from the set of people they ought to listen to.
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