Unlike a certain California gubernatorial candidate, I am proud to say that I haven’t missed an opportunity to vote since I turned 18, despite having moved multiple times. I even voted absentee from Mexico. Today, I mailed in my ballot here in LA county (I would like to repeat my complaint from last year which is that it is confusing to fill out an absentee ballot here.)
My 18th birthday was just a couple of days before the 2000 presidential election – I cast my first vote ever for Al Gore. Here’s a quick refresher how well that went:
I quickly got schooled in just how much (or how little) my vote counts. The experience prompted my exploration of the electoral college system, which I concluded was set up for two reasons: 1) We aren’t technically capable of a perfect vote count and 2) We don’t trust the masses.
Being a Californian, you could make a solid argument that my vote for a Democrat in the presidential contest doesn’t really count for much anyway, considering that California reliably goes for the Dem. I’ve heard other young people use this excuse. First of all, it doesn’t apply to state and local issues, where your vote certainly makes a difference. Secondly, I vote for more reasons than the pure outcome:
1) Civic duty: I really do feel that it is my duty as a citizen to stay informed and to exercise my right to vote. We’re in an era without a draft, rations, victory gardens or other civic sacrifices – I think I can take the time to vote!
2) Guilt: Given what women went through to get the right to vote, not to mention what people around the world continue to suffer to fight for this right, I would be ashamed not to vote.
3) The right to complain: In my eyes, if you didn’t cast a vote, you lost your right to complain about the outcome of the election. People don’t elect themselves and your vote counts for more than you running your mouth about how you’re boycotting the elections.
4) It’s fun! I love watching the debates, I’m always amused by the crazy mailers that show up in the mail and I like discussing the merits of the various propositions with my friends and family. When I was in school in Oregon, I was still registered to vote absentee. In 2003, I got my ballot to vote for the post-recall governor, which included 200 candidates, among them a sumo wrestler, an adult entertainer, not to mention our current Governator.
This pretty much cemented my out-of-state friends’ conclusion that Californians are completely whacky.
And we are! Today, I got to vote on whether to legalize marijuana. So, my fellow citizens and fellow Californians, I urge you to vote on Nov. 2. You might even enjoy it.