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Why you should vote on Tuesday

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I majored in political science, interned for a congresswoman, worked for political organizations, volunteered for a presidential candidate and understand the ins and outs of the political process and how important and crucial it is to vote in every election.  And yet, like many of us (I assume) I wish I could sit this one out.

It’s not that I haven’t been following the hoopla—Harry Reid and Susan Angle, Christine O’Donnell and Chris Coons, Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown, the tea party and the new elite— it’s all just so noisy and exhausting.  Earlier this week, I counted more than a dozen campaign commercials during Dancing with the Stars and there isn’t even a president election this year!  And all of them, without an exception, spent the entire commercial bashing the other candidate and never said a word about what they were actually going to do for this country.  Depressing, much?

If, like me, you are feeling **election lethargy, don’t give up and skip out on Tuesday— it will only make things worse.  Even through the cacophony of partisanship fighting there are many reasons to make sure your vote gets counted.  Here are a few of them:

Illinois is important.  Maybe it comes with age (I did just turn 27), but I’m not seeing any of our candidates from either political party with the same rose-colored glasses of my “youth.”  Still, this election has a lot on the line, both the house and the senate are up for grabs and the senate race in Illinois could potentially decide if Harry Reid (assuming he sticks around) or Mitch McConnell takes over.  That’s a big deal!  Whether or not you like our candidates as individuals, you have to decide if you want the donkeys or the elephants to be in charge the next two years.

This is our future.  The aftermath of the recession, repealing DADT, Iran, healthcare, education reform, social security, gay marriage, peace in Israel, stem cell research, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reproductive choice— these issues are going to define our generation and affect our lives for the rest of our lives.  It’s times like this when it’s more important than ever to make sure our voices get heard.

Why wouldn’t you?  What do you have to lose?  My dad has sat out more presidential elections than I’ve been alive for, but he’s also never, not once, not showed up to the polls on voting day.  Every election cycle consists of more than just the big stuff.  Did you know that this year there are 24 judge elections and 41 referenda items on the Cook County Ballot?  Even if you can’t bring yourself to vote for the lesser of two evils in some of the bigger elections, there are other races.

Don’t complain when you don’t like what happens.  To quote my friend Mark, “if I don't participate by picking the people that I want to govern me, then I'll only be governed by people I don't like…or worse, people that are completely against my interests.”  ‘Nough said.

We live in a Democracy.  If none of the above makes you want to run out to the polls on Tuesday morning, consider this: voting is a privilege you just shouldn’t waste.  I know it is cheesy, but we are all lucky to live in a Democracy.  We have the freedom to show up at the polls and vote for any candidate we chose with no threat of punishment or negative repercussion.  I travelled abroad this summer and visited a country run by a longstanding dictator.  I had a very negative experience in this country interacting with its residents and left never wanting to return.  It wasn’t until a few weeks later that it dawned on me that the oppression they were living under might have had something to do with morale and why they treated outsiders so wretchedly.  Never before have I valued my freedom more.  While it might not be perfect here, we are lucky to be Americans.

Don’t be lazy.  Finally, if the reasons why you might skip voting on Tuesday have anything to do with not know where your precinct is,  what you need to vote, or when to vote, take a few minutes right now to find out.  I’ve listed some resources below and above that will answer all your questions and if you’re still in doubt just Google it.  Also, if your excuse is that you just won’t have the time Tuesday to make it to the polls, then think again.  Voting early ends today.  There are more than a dozen precincts where you can vote early in Cook County.  I’m heading to the County Clerk’s Main Office at 69 West Washington over lunch today to vote.

I’ll meet you there!

**Election lethargy as defined by me is: One who is sick of and wishes that all these damn politicians and their special interest groups would just shut up, stop fighting and hijacking the election, quit calling each other extremists and actually consider what is best for our country.

For more information on how to vote and to get educated on the candidates, visit  rock the vote .  Visit  VOTE411.org  to see who's on your ballot, choose your candidates and print a copy of your "ballot" to take with you to the polls.

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