This morning I cast my vote in the 2008 election.
This is actually only the second time in my life that I’ve voted, in the political sense. I’m a registered independent, so I don’t vote in the Primary elections. I didn’t vote in 1996, despite being old enough to do so, because I just wasn’t politically aware or motivated at the time. And I didn’t vote in 2000, because I was technically a Florida resident and was living in New Mexico at the time.
In early November 2000, though, I sat up all night on Election Night at my roommate Art’s job (he worked overnights at a hotel) and watched the unfolding electoral drama on TV. I realized with growing horror that it was going to come down to how Florida voted, and that I hadn’t participated.
Man, did THAT wake me up!
Don’t get me wrong… I know that my individual vote wouldn’t have made a difference. In fact, I’ve always resisted the “if everyone felt that way and didn’t vote, what would happen?” argument… If my single act of voting inspired a significant number of people to vote, sure, I’d be more motivated to do so. But the fact is, it doesn’t make a practical difference what I do. So why did I bother today?
Principle. I have a strong opinion about this election, and about some individual referendums on certain state and local issues. I feel good knowing that I participated and did my part to support the candidates and issues that I believe in.
HOWEVER… I don’t support people who vote just because they CAN.
I once had someone argue with me that I should vote because I had the RIGHT to, and because lots of people around the world don’t have the opportunity to vote. I was horrified — this person honestly thought that people should vote, even if they don’t have an opinion and aren’t informed about the candidates and issues, simply because they can.
Whoa. Seriously, that scares the hell outta me! It makes me wonder how many votes get cast each year for silly, uninformed reasons.
With that in mind, I left sections of my ballot blank today. On races where I knew NOTHING about either candidate, I didn’t mark a selection. Yes, I wish I’d taken the time to look into the various candidates in local races, but I didn’t… And I knew that the best chance for me to actually make myself vote would be if I did it while lines were short and I had some availability on my calendar. So I trekked over this morning, cast my vote where I had an opinion, slapped on my “I Voted Early” sticker, and walked out of there satisfied with myself.
If you’d like to do the same and you live in Mecklenburg County, NC you can go to one of several polling places for early voting. The Center City Library opens for early voting at 11:00am. The line forms early and grows quickly, so I’d encourage you to get there by 10:45am or so.