(This entry is written as if everyone reading it is an American citizen, for ease of phrasing. Apologies to those to whom it's irrelevant.)
Jon Carroll has an interesting column today on why it's worth voting, even if you're convinced it doesn't make a difference. His take is basically that it's a good habit to be in:
cynicism is a powerful tool of the ruling class. Depressed voter turnout helps the incumbents. If sensible citizens become disgusted with the process, then only non-sensible citizens will vote.
I'm in idealist mode this morning (despite having not spent yesterday evening going over voter information as I'd planned), so I'll go a step further.
I'll agree with Carroll that in many places, the outcome of the race between a Democrat and a Republican is a foregone conclusion. But there are still plenty of good reasons to vote:
- Even if you cast your vote, it may not make much difference. But if you don't cast your vote, it can't make any difference. The chance goes from small to zero. (And although it doesn't happen often, remember what happened in Florida last time around. I bet there were thousands of Floridans who wished they'd voted.)
- Not voting doesn't send a message that you don't like the candidates. It sends a message that the candidates shouldn't care what you think. If you don't vote, the big-party candidates couldn't care less about you.
- There are often small-party candidates who may be more in line with your beliefs than the big-party candidates. If you don't care which big-party candidate wins, then voting for a small-party candidate does send a message. If more people did it, it would send more of a message.
- Even if you can't bring yourself to care about the candidates, there are plenty of ballot initiatives out there (in most places, anyway) that you may have a bigger chance of influencing, and that may have a much bigger chance of affecting your life than any of the candidates. Learn about the measures and vote on them.
For voter information, I highly recommend Project Vote Smart. Lots of good non-partisan information about practically every candidate and initiative everywhere in the US.