I was talking to a young twenty-something at a breakfast last weekend and asked her if she was registered to vote. Not yet she said. I’ve known her she was little and so I pressed a bit. She then patiently explained to me that she is thoroughly disgusted by the presidential election, and that really, living in Vermont, her vote won’t count anyway.
I’ve been trying to figure out when people started believing that choosing not to vote would have no consequences? That we are all powerless pawns in a corrupt system and all attempts to change the system will fail. That turning away and ignoring the ugliness might make it disappear. Or worse, that we have no power, no voice. Where did that hopelessness and cynicism come from? How is it that so many Americans willingly choose not to vote.
Elections have consequences. And every vote does matter. When TJ and I got married just after the November 2000 election, we didn’t know if George Bush or Al Gore had won the election because it was that close. When I was elected in 2014, I beat the incumbent by 39 votes. We’d both like to let you know that each one of those 39 votes mattered a whole lot, and there were real consequences to that election. Among those consequences was the fact that I had to cast a single vote for governor representing all of the people in all of my towns because the governor’s race was also too close, and so the legislature had to elect the governor.
There were other consequences of the close elections in 2014, including finally having this district’s interests, rather than national interests, as the focus of your representative’s effort in Montpelier. Rather than our neighbor’s being told they just have to “deal with it because they live in Vermont…” regarding poor broadband and cell service, because of that close election, they have begun to be empowered with information and resources and connections to finally start making some headway in our smallest towns. Full and part-time residents in our valley also have had a much better idea of what is going on with legislation and how they can weigh in, because of that close election.
It matters if you vote this year. Vermont is definitely getting a new Governor as Governor Shumlin is not running. We are also getting a new Lieutenant Governor, and though many may think the position is of little consequence, that office has a great deal of weight in the running of the Senate.
Elections have consequences. Not voting has consequences. And every vote does matter. Vote for our local races and our new Governor, and your state rep. Vote for our servicemembers, and for our kids, and for our nation’s future. Yes, it is ugly out there, but it really matters.
You can register to vote at your town clerk’s office or online with the Vermont Secretary of State. And you can vote now, or request an absentee ballot, or at the polls on November 8th.