Let’s get one thing straight, right at the start, okay? This is not me telling how to vote, this is me telling you why you should engage in the exercise of your democratic franchise. Because there are many people out there who seem to think that not voting is somehow a better idea than voting, which is why the average American president gets elected by about 25% of the US population.
So take a deep breath, prepare yourself mentally and physically, and let’s move on.
Reason #1: Remembrance
The first reason for voting is historical. Frankly, good men and women of many races and creeds struggled hard and long to get you the right to vote. Some of them did prison time. Some of them were killed. In a multitude of different countries, people who believed in your right to choose have suffered and ultimately triumphed in the long battle for this right. In some countries, you still run the risk of being killed in trying to exercise this right. If you’re reading this, the odds are that you don’t live in one of them, but that’s merely a matter of history – we’re luckier that our struggles were longer ago, is all. So honour their memory, their struggle, their sacrifice, by exercising the right they have won for you.
Moreover, honour the memory of all those who fought in wars and died for your nation’s flag, because this sacred right is one of the things that they fought for. Respecting their memory and sacrifice isn’t just for November 11 and whatever other days your nation marks to honour the fallen. It’s for election day as well. Vote in the proud knowledge that this is what they fought for.
Reason #2: For and Against
The second reason why you should vote is that you were mostly likely taught a highly-idealised version of how elections work by your educators. They probably told you that elections are about voting for someone or something. That is the ideal; the real world is not kind to ideals. In my entire adult life, I’ve only ever voted for a referendum or two. I have never voted for a candidate. Never. (I largely attribute this to being born in the wrong universe, because I would happily have voted for Jed Bartlet.)
Fortunately, I do live in a universe where Robert Heinlein was a writer, and have a great deal of respect for his injunction that while there may not be anyone you want to vote for, there will certainly be someone you want to vote against.
To put it another way: yes, politicians pretty much all suck, but there are degrees of suckage, and an election is an excellent way for you to rank them accordingly, through the medium of the ballot paper.
Reason #3: You’re going to complain anyway
No really, you are. It’s only human.
But if you’ve voted, you’ve at least earned the right to complain. If some oxygen-wasting prat gets in, and does something you don’t like despite you voting against them, you at least will know that you tried. But if you don’t vote, you don’t try. You have to play if you’re going to win. (If you were unlucky enough to vote for the prat in question, there are two consolations for you: first, that admitting that one was wrong builds character, and second, that you can vote against them next time around.)
Conversely, if you’ve been proudly proclaiming that you don’t vote, you have, in doing so, given up any right whatsoever to even comment on politics, let alone to complain about it. After all, you didn’t care then, right? If you didn’t care so much then, when parties were announcing the policies they’d put into action if elected, tt’s a little late to start caring when they do. After all, it’s not like you weren’t warned.
And if your reason for not voting is that all politicians are the same, I implore you to scroll back to Reason #2, and re-read at least that last paragraph again. Now read it aloud.
Reason #4: You don’t know how
I’m not unsympathetic to this argument, but really – you’re reading this online. All the information you need on how to vote is a quick search away. Just search for “how to vote” + [the name of your country/state/municipality/etc], and you shouldn’t have any trouble at all finding out. You can even print it out and take it with you to the polling booth in most countries – and at the last resort, the people at the polling booth should be able to tell you (or give you a paper that explains) the proper procedures.
So there you have it: four good reasons to get out there and do your duty by your democracy.