Make your point, and leave a mark

By The Columbia Chronicle

November 3, 1998 – Just as my local polling place was about to be locked down, I kicked open the door and with my final breath, bellowed, “I’m here to VOTE!” Frozen, the little old lady working the desk handed me a ballot.

But this was no ordinary Election Day, as I would learn. Somehow, the votes had been counted already and every single race had turned up a tie. My vote, the final vote of the evening, didn’t just count — it would decide the whole thing. Take THAT, Carol Moseley-Braun!

TV cameras hit the scene and every politician dropped in. After inking a book deal, I whipped out my lucky pencil for sharpening. When I lifted the ballot for all to see, the crowd of thousands roared.

With every punch of a slot came shrieks of pain and cheers of joy. I winked at the winners and laughed boisterously at the losers. Like a bride with the bouquet, I threw my pencil into the crowd. And as millions of people around the state of Illinois chanted my name, I walked away into the sunset. Of course the sun had set about two hours before, but nobody seemed to care.

Unfortunately, Election Day is never this exciting. It tailgates Halloween, falls smack in the middle of the Christmas shopping season (which officially replaced autumn back in 1988), and there isn’t even a pumpkin pie involved. And no day off from school!? In the words of my heavily stereotyped generation, whatever!

In all seriousness, I won’t insult your intelligence in telling you what Election Day is or why it holds importance. If you don’t know, then you probably aren’t reading this anyway (most likely because you can’t read). More importantly, I won’t preach the virtues of voting, why you should “Get out and vote!”, or why your vote is the most important service you can provide for your country. It’s not.

Just the same, however, I won’t sulk around and tell you your vote means nothing, that voting’s for chumps or that Democracy in America sucks. It doesn’t.

You’re probably saying to yourself, “Idiot! What are you going to tell us?”

Well, nothing. Election Day is tomorrow, and you’re either set to vote or you’re not. You’ve heard it all before and if you’re at all like me, you don’t want to hear any more. The commercials are ludicrous balls of confusion. The candidates all sound the same (read: ineffective). Someone somewhere has to be lying.

With all this support it would be very easy to dismiss tomorrow’s election as just another Tuesday; after all, a low voter turnout sets off just as many alarms as the largest of landslides. But there is a fine line between not voting and being completely ineffective, and most people cross that line.

No one can argue with you if you pass because you just don’t care. But we all know someone who skips the elections for different reasons. Most of the time, it’s because people feel that their vote doesn’t mean anything or that the candidates are identical. Again, that’s not so terrible. The terrible part is when people continually feel frustrated under the belief that the only power they wield is at the polls, and that the electricity we generate with this power couldn’t even ignite a grease fire.

If you vote, do yourself a service and back it up. If you don’t vote, do yourself an even bigger service and back it up as well. The power and influence of the American people is strong enough to take any government down to its knees, and is the sole reason why America is one of the best examples of liberation, prosperity and opportunity in the world. Whether you want to oil the political wheels or rage against the entire machine, there is always room for your opinion, and no matter how much cash you pull down or whether people call you sir, ma’am or “Hey you!”, you can always influence someone. Your voice is as good as anybody’s. Use it.