I have voted in 92 elections. It would have been 93, but I was sick one year. Really sick. You might be able to figure out my age and probably can intuit my commitment to the importance of voting.
The way I figure it, if you do not vote, then you cannot complain. You cannot complain about the interest rate of your student loans next year. You cannot complain about potholes in the road when you drive to school or about public transit when you wait for a long time for the late train.
You cannot complain because it is so hard to find summer jobs or permanent jobs after graduation. You cannot complain about the long wait in emergency rooms or the cost of getting a prescription filled.
You cannot complain about taxes– sales taxes, income taxes, taxes on your mobile phone service and wireless access at home. You cannot complain about the legality or illegality of medical marijuana. You cannot complain about climate change, even when you are trying to find some boots to walk through the knee-deep snow this winter.
But….if you did vote, you can complain. You tried to fix things that are broken. You took the time to learn about the candidates and issues. You took the time to either go to vote in person or fill out an absentee ballot. You voted for candidates who represent your interests. You voiced your feelings through your votes.
You became an advocate for your causes. You elected folks who said they believe in the things that are important to you (hopefully). They will cast national, state and local legislative votes that represent your views (hopefully). They will continue or change policies to align with your beliefs (hopefully). She/he will head the executive branch of government and represent your viewpoint (hopefully).
It is a gamble, so to speak. You vote and hope that politicians representing you will really represent you. But it is better than not voting, because if you do not vote then you really let other people create policies that will impact your life. You turn over decision-making to folks who may not have your interests in mind. You neglect your civic responsibility, your obligation as a citizen. You definitely loose the democracy gamble.
In Pennsylvania, Oct. 11 is the last day to register before the November election. Register to vote online here: https://www.pavoterservices.state.pa.us/Pages/VoterRegistrationApplication.aspx
In New Jersey, Oct. 18 is the last day to register before the November election. Although there is no statewide online registration in New Jersey, you can download the form here: http://nj.gov/state/elections/voting-information.html