In case you haven’t heard, there is an election taking place in Alabama today.
Not a big deal, really. We’re just voting on the potential next Governor, United States Senator, Secretary of State, an Alabama Supreme Court Justice … like I said, no big deal, right?
Current Secretary of State John Merrill (who is not on the ballot, being term-limited from running again), expects a turnout of somewhere between 28-32% of the roughly 3.7 million eligible voters.
For those of you who learned your math from an Alabama public school (currently ranked 52nd in the country in math), that means roughly one person out of every three to four people will vote.
If you are a regular voter, look at it this way: you are standing in a checkout line at the local Piggly Wiggly, one of four adults in that line. Chances are, you voted not only for your preferred candidates, but your vote also counted for all three of those other people who chose not to vote.
By you not voting, my vote means that much more, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your confidence, giving me that kind of power.
In fact, if a few more of you stay home and don’t vote, my power increases exponentially. My vote could be worth four votes if the turnout is 25% of registered voters, or even be the equivalent of me getting to vote five times if the turnout is just 20%.
The truth is, by choosing not to participate in the election process, those people who don’t vote have given those of us who do power - over their very lives, their laws, their rights, their citizenship.
To which I say, thank you.
See, I keep participating in the system, no matter how bad it is, because it's the system we have and if I don't vote, then I risk leaving my future in the hands of one of those three people in the check-out line at the Pigg who does vote.
And while one simple abstention may not seem to affect much in the big picture, it could.
According to a 2001 University of Chicago study of state and federal elections in the United States between 1898 and 1992, "one of every 100,000 votes cast in U.S. elections, and one of every 15,000 votes cast in state elections, ‘mattered’ in the sense that they were cast for a candidate that officially tied or won by one vote."
There is an old saying that goes, “You can't win if you don't play the game.” Well, when it comes to elections, you can't have a say in self-governing if you're not willing to suck it up sometimes and make a choice.
By not voting, you are essentially allowing someone else to make one of the most important decisions of your civic life for you.
It’s election day. If you want me to handle it for you, I will.
Just don’t blame me if you don’t like the results. You had your chance.
Ray Melick is Editor-in-Chief of 1819 News. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com .