Please Vote!

Today I did one of the most important things I will do this year: I voted.

It’s a privilege to have a voice in deciding the future of our country. Like all rights, it’s also a responsibility. The right to vote was not won without a fight – whether it was the break-away from the British crown or the struggles that finally allowed non-whites and women to vote as well. Even today, my vote for president won’t influence the election, because I don’t live in a swing state. It’s quite possible that the candidate who I consider most qualified to lead the country wins the majority of the vote, yet loses the presidential contest. (Thank the Electoral College for that.)

And yet my vote is important. This election will likely be very close. If one party or another claims fraud based on perceived irregularities in one swing state or another, the popular vote conveys legitimacy to the candidate who won the most votes, regardless of where they were cast. As we worry about unrest and violence in the event of a contested election, the best way to prevent it is to make sure one candidate wins by a large margin that leaves no room for doubt.

The local races have their own importance – whether it’s the fight over banning plastic bags (which made it on the ballot here in Washington State disguised as a referendum over a ‘tax increase’) or voting for state leaders who will take us forward as we face the challenges of Covid-19, climate change and racial justice.

That is why I implore you: Vote! I don’t care which party and candidate you favor – I firmly believe that the one with the most votes should win. If you live in a swing state, your vote might actually determine the outcome of the election. If you don’t, it’s still extremely important to convey legitimacy and show that you care.

Because once the election is over, we’ll need to work on making the system more democratic. For the first time, there seems to be momentum gathering to abolish the Electoral College, a remnant from the past designed to enshrine minority rule. Once people feel that their voices are heard regardless of where they live and what color their skin, we might be able to return to a more respectful discourse on the real issues we face as a nation and world. Please take the time to vote! Thank you!

13 Responses to Please Vote!

  1. Owen October 25, 2020 at 6:11 pm #

    Thank you Jan. I lived for a number of years in the (former) East Germany, and hearing people’s stories of how elections there were neither free nor fair only reinforced the importance of voting. Not that I needed much persuasion–I’ve voted in every election since turning 18, including when I lived abroad. For national politics, our situation here in California is much like yours in Washington, but there are several very important local and statewide ballot measures this year.

  2. Alexander López October 25, 2020 at 7:08 pm #

    Don’t let others decide your destiny.

    I was born and still living in Venezuela. The reason Hugo Chávez became president was because most people didn’t vote. Had more people took their duty seriously, Chávez wouldn’t have been able to turn the wealthiest country in Latin America into the poorest one.

    Don’t make our mistake. Go vote for either for the best candidate or against the worst one, but go vote.

    • Jan Heine October 25, 2020 at 9:12 pm #

      I cycled in Venezuela in the late-1990s, and I fondly remember the amazing landscapes, steep climbs and descents, and especially the friendly, warm and welcoming people. When the political situation deteriorated, it filled me with great sadness. I hope things improve soon. I will return when it does!

  3. rinjin@mac.com October 26, 2020 at 11:49 am #

    Thanks, Jan. Well said.

  4. The Coasting Frenchman October 26, 2020 at 12:17 pm #

    Unfortunately, I think there is not perfect system. Living in France, I think my vote matters, but I am beginning to be tired of voting AGAINST a particular candidate that I really don’t want to have as president, rather than voting FOR someone I really want to see at the helm… All the best for your election, anyway.

  5. Giovanni October 26, 2020 at 12:49 pm #

    Thanks Jan.
    America needs more progressiveness.
    We much go forward with intelligent changes to our constitution.
    Thomas Jefferson thought that we should have a constitution convention, every 19 years.

  6. Mike M October 26, 2020 at 4:19 pm #

    My wife and I voted two weeks ago by mail-in ballot. We dropped ours off at the local town hall. It couldn’t be easier – nor more important – to vote this time around.

  7. Korina October 26, 2020 at 7:39 pm #

    My husband and I voted last week by mail-in ballot; we dropped them off in a ballot box. Living in a very blue town in northern California, our votes won’t decide the presidency, but we have some important state and local issues to decide on, as well as three open seats on the city council.

    We vote every time, making sure to research the issues, because we’re old and still believe in civic duty (remember that?). We also appreciate the privilege of having a voice in our governance.

  8. Nick M October 27, 2020 at 3:07 am #

    Like most “democracies”, the USA is actually nothing of the sort. In the past, voting could achieve something; that hasn’t been the case since the days of Reagan and Thatcher. If you vote now, the one thing you can be sure of is that nothing much will change. Global warming will proceed, mass extinctions will still happen, environments everywhere will be wrecked… and worst of all, because it magnifies all the other problems, the world’s human population will continue to grow unchecked.

    It would be better by far to withhold your vote – as I have done for 40 years – than to endorse the sham that passes for democracy in most nation states. Don’t legitimise candidates who fraudulently claim to represent your interests! They have no intention of doing anything of the kind.

    • Jan Heine October 28, 2020 at 9:05 am #

      The idea that because the system is far from perfect, you’re not going to do anything, is strange to me. If withholding your vote did anything positive, perhaps I could see it. But the act of defiance and protest is indistinguishable from pure laziness. The intent is very different, but it’s known only to you. Beyond that, politics are a tug-of-war, where both sides (or more!) pull on a rope, and it goes a little one way or the other, but no side will ever pull the rope entirely into their territory.

      Not voting because the system is far from perfect is like saying that until you have the perfect bike, you won’t ride. I can tell you that I’m going to go out and ride, even if my bike is a beater with steel rims, stiff tires, leaky tubes, and squeaky bearings. The question is whether elections make any measurable change, and the answer is, I believe, a resounding yes. Just look at the last four years… Whichever side you’re on, I think there’s little doubt that the U.S. (and the world) would look different today if the other candidate had won.

  9. Joe October 27, 2020 at 9:18 am #

    I’d like to mention it’s perfectly fine to leave your ballot partially or completely blank. I’m not sure I feel strongly about some races….but I certainly am going to cast a ballot, even if it’s blank.

    • Jan Heine October 28, 2020 at 9:07 am #

      There also are very good resources that can provide information. A neighbor recommended the Progressive Voter’s Guide.

  10. Gert October 28, 2020 at 10:28 am #

    Well said, Jan, I agree totally.