Does my vote count?

If voting is as essential as everyone says it is, why do I feel like my vote doesn’t count? I’m just one insignificant voter among over 300 million. Furthermore, the state I live in consists of a voter body overwhelmingly leaning to one political party. These arguments swirl around in my mind while I decide whether or not I should fill my ballot out.

The counterargument is yelled at me while these thoughts flood my mind: if everyone believes their vote doesn’t count, then no one will vote. This is not a convincing counterargument for me because while that is true, I still only fill out one ballot.

I picked up my ballot and started filling it out just because I didn’t want to. Looking at all of the various proposition descriptions was a little daunting so I decided to thoroughly read at least one proposition and make a well educated decision.

I read the legislative analyst’s explanation of the bill and the circumstances listed, which allegedly inspired the legislators to believe reform was needed. I decided this perspective was the most helpful because it was as close to a nonpartisan explanation as you can get. The facts are laid out clearly and I don’t have to worry about someone trying to persuade me because they have an interest in me voting a particular way.

Voting is a prerogative many countries don’t honor. America is great because it recognizes a person’s liberty to decide which laws he or she wants to be governed by.

I read the arguments for and against the proposition and the rebuttals to those arguments, but ultimately I want to exercise my own judgment. In the act of deciding for myself, I practice using logic to discern the truth of a proposition; I voice my opinion, not someone else’s.

I had fun debating a few of the propositions with my family, and in doing so, I realized the real power of voting. Voting forces us to engage in the overall political discussion. Voting shifts the gear of the political machine from neutral to drive. In discussing these issues with family and friends, we raise awareness and instigate active participation. It would be naive to assume every proposed bill is written to benefit the largest number of people possible. Some bills are written and amended based on back alley negotiations and quid quo pro purposes. It’s the voter’s job to keep the politicians in check. If you feel strongly about a proposition, discuss the issue with your friends, neighbors and community, but not to the point of stirring up resentment.

Remember, the wording of some propositions is meant to mislead us. It is necessary to examine the issue from all angles and hear both sides out.

Of course not all politicians make dirty deals. Voting give us the right to elect politicians who we think have integrity and truly want the best for the American people. I’m not a pessimist. I really believe most Americans are good, and want the best for their neighbor, but if we wash our hands of the election process, then we have no right to complain about legislative decisions.

There are people and organizations who spend huge sums of money to influence us. They want certain propositions passed because it helps them financially. This conflict of interest is the source of corruption. Money and politics do not go together. Think of big tobacco. They have an interest in getting a candidate elected who will allow big corporations free reign. Big corporations are motivated to do what they do best: ensure profit. Earning money is not wrong per se, but when it clouds people’s judgment to make a just and fair decision, then it is wrong.

This election has huge implications. The next president will decide the course of the supreme court for the next few decades. Many citizens don’t follow the rulings of the supreme court, but the supreme court represents the third branch of our government and has tremendous power.

Vote because so much is riding on this election and because it is important to practice using logic to decide what is right and fair. Vote for who is more presidential and who will handle delicate issues with tact and integrity.

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