Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why Vote?

You can tell the difference between "smart people" and "not-so-smart people" by whether they think their one vote has a chance of being the difference in a national election. That's according to Freakonomics author Steven Levitt in a recent Freakonomics Radio podcast. Levitt admits that he doesn't usually vote, but when he does, it's because "it's fun."

I agree with Levitt that voting is fun. I vote on election day instead of mailing my ballot in because I love going to the polls and seeing other people there voting and getting the "I Voted" sticker and wearing it all day.

But Seth Godin offers a better reason for voting: Politicians focus all of their energy trying to convince the people who vote. If you don't vote, you are invisible to political campaigns. If you start voting (especially in low-turnout races like primaries and city council races) all of the sudden all of the politicians are contacting you and obsessing over what you think.

Utah has a funky caucus system. When I moved here from California, I didn't understand it. But then I got chosen by my neighbors to be a State and County delegate to our party conventions. Now I constantly get mail from politicians. My congressman calls me personally on the phone before each convention. I am one of about 80 people who chooses my state legislator.

Maybe your vote by itself won't change the presidential election. But the people who care enough to show up this time will get listened to next time. All of the sudden you are the target audience for the people running for office. That's sometimes a hassle, but to me it's worth it.

So go vote. If only so that you will get goofy mailers from C-list politicians during the next election cycle.

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