This I Believe

Annette - Boulder, Colorado
Entered on October 10, 2006

I believe in voting. So the other day, when my optician complained about our government while adjusting my glasses, I suggested he do something about it this November seventh.

What’s the point? He complained. The Electoral College makes it a sham anyway.

I tried to cheer him up by explaining that only happens in presidential elections. His vote this year for governor, secretary of state and a close congressional race was going to count. But he just wanted an excuse for not voting.

I’m one of those high performing voters who show up at the polls for anything. I have voted in every election since the day I was eligible to vote. So, I can’t think of any reason for not voting.

I even have my students vote on their creative homework assignments by placing small neon dots on their favorite ideas. They give each other validation and it sparks great discussions. Last week, several students expressed their hopes that they could continue to vote throughout the semester. Of course, I assured them. I believe in voting.

It baffles me that despite the fact that so few Americans vote, some politicians are trying to create restrictions. If I were running for office, I’d want more people to vote for me, not less.

In 2000, I was one of only about 55% of the eligible voters in our country that voted for the leader of the free world. In 2004, a little more than 60% participated with me.

During off-year elections, it’s even lonelier. In 2002, less than 40 percent could be bothered.

Thomas Jefferson said, “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”

Some people complain that their vote doesn’t really matter, so why bother. Well, not voting guarantees that it doesn’t matter. The Colorado Governor’s race in 1998 was decided by only 3 votes per precinct. There were a lot more than 3 people in those precincts who could have changed the outcome – if they had only voted.

I’ve voted for lots of candidates who didn’t win. Some of them weren’t even on the ballot. I still believe in voting.

I could say it’s because I’m a patriot, or because I owe it to the soldiers who fought to protect my right, or to honor American women who couldn’t vote until a hundred years ago, or I vote for the women in the world who can’t vote at all.

That’s all true. But the real reason I believe in voting is it makes me feel powerful.

I agree with Franklin Roosevelt, who said, “The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not the President, senators and congressmen, and government officials, but the voters of this country.”

My candidate only needs to win by one vote and one day it might be mine. That’s why I believe in voting.