Vote Early, Vote Awesome

by brendan on 10/30/2010

I voted today. My state has mandatory vote-by-mail for all citizens, so we received a ballot a few weeks ago and it gets dropped off in one of many white “vote here” mailboxes all over town. Seems like a good idea, at least in terms of voter participation. Definitely negates the need to call for a voting holiday, which would be another good way to try and encourage more participation.

Are you going to vote? You should. It’s your privilege as a citizen. Not voting is kind of like if your friend offered you free tickets to see your favorite band, and you went wearing earplugs. Get it? The band is the government and your friend represents democracy and… whatever. It’s a terrible analogy but you should still vote. Let’s list out potential non-voter excuses:

Excuse: I don’t care about politics.
Rebuttal: Sure you do. Do you care how much tax comes out of your paycheck? How many potholes you drive over on your commute to work? If our economy is good enough for you to find a job in the first place? Whether or not you or your family members get drafted to fight in a war?  If gays can marry? If abortion is legal? How your child’s school is run? Everything is politics. Just get rid of that word, politics, and insert whatever you care about.

Excuse: I don’t know who to vote for.
Rebuttal: Most states provide a voter guide, and many newspapers are running candidate comparisons . Read them. Almost all candidates have a website, check them out. Go to the library and use their internet if you have to. Watch a debate on TV or listen on the radio. Project Vote Smart has a Vote Easy site that lets you answer questions on issues and they’ll try to match you up with candidates in your state. Open Secrets lets you look up candidates by state and find out who donated to them (for incumbents it also tries to connect donations to actual congressional votes). Bad sources for information include TV/radio campaign ads or alarmist ad-supported news websites like,, and

Excuse: No candidate represents me.
Rebuttal: There are a lot of candidates running, covering a decently broad spectrum. Are you sure? You should probably give that candidate listing another look (see previous rebuttal). If there really isn’t somebody representing your interests, maybe you should consider running?

Excuse: I have to work/sleep/play/convalesce on election day, so I can’t get to the polls.
Rebuttal: Vote absentee (by mail), or move to Oregon or Washington where everybody votes by mail. We can offer you lovely summers, and all the subarus, coffee shops, apples, and rain you could ever want.

Excuse: All politicians are corrupt.
Rebuttal: Some are, yes. The campaign finance system certainly is. Our toothless laws mean that most candidates spend an unreasonable amount of time fundraising, and often primarily from those who have the deepest pockets.  Does this money translate into influence? Yes. So make campaign finance reform your personal issue and support reform candidates. The Fair Elections Now Act is also a good step in the right direction; contact your representatives to ask them to support it.

Now that I have thoroughly shredded your anti-vote defenses, your choice is clear. Vote!

To be fair, you do also have the option to mutter something about me being a nerd and resolve to stop visiting my blog entirely. While my site logs might indicate that many have already opted for the latter, I can promise you that the former will be a much more fulfilling experience. And if you were already planning to vote, well, you’re awesome. How ’bout them Tigers?

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