Does My Vote Really Matter?

Several years ago the community I was living in held a bond election which required a two-thirds majority of the votes to pass. When the votes were being counted, there was one vote the election officials could not decipher, and they were unsure whether it should be counted in the total number of votes cast or not. If it wasn’t, the vote received the two-thirds votes required to pass. If it was, the vote didn’t receive the two-thirds, and it failed. That one vote made all the difference. And one more vote in either direction would have made all the difference as well.
                Now here’s the kicker, that day I fully intended to go vote. Honestly, I did. But I really had a lot to do that day, and I got really busy so….

                I’ve used this story many times over the years to illustrate that every vote matters. But this election cycle I’ve been rethinking that attitude. I’ve been told by people supporting every candidate on the ballot that if I vote for anyone other than their chosen candidate, I will essentially be responsible for the decline of America as we know it. And I’ve had to ask myself if my vote is really that powerful. Can my vote alone determine the fate of our country? The answer I’ve come up with is no.
                Think about it. When it comes to electing who will be the next president, my vote is just one infinitesimal drop in the bucket. Sure the candidates all want us to vote for them because the candidate who gets the most drops in their bucket wins. I know, with the Electoral College it’s not quite that simple, but for the most part, that’s how it works. Still, one vote is just one drop.
                So does my vote really matter? Would it make any difference if I just sat this one out? With all the ugliness going on in this campaign, that’s a very tempting idea. It would be nice to tune out and spend the next few weeks listening to Pandora instead of campaign rhetoric. It would be lovely to spend my evenings reading a good novel instead of exploring the stances of candidates on campaign issues. And I would certainly prefer looking at fashion blogs instead of political websites. So I ask myself again, does my vote really matter?
                The answer I’ve come up with is yes. But not in the possibility that my vote will singlehandedly determine our next president and the direction our country will take for the next four years. My vote matters because when I stand in that little booth and mark my ballot, I will demonstrate to myself, and in a very small way to the country as a whole, who I am and what I stand for, and maybe just as importantly, what I will not stand for.
             So on November 8 I promise I will go to the polls and vote. Even if it is a really busy day. I'll make the time. I promise. And when at the end of the day the votes are counted, it may not matter who I voted for. But what will matter is that one of those infinitesimal drops in the bucket will be mine.
                

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