Rick Scott and Charlie Crist, AKA Lord Voldemort and the sleaziest used-car salesman you ever met, may not be the most inspiring candidates ever, but that's not an excuse not to vote today.
Of course, Facebook and Twitter and all of that are full of people proudly proclaiming they've voted, and mixed in are comments and statuses of people proudly proclaiming their voter apathy and ignorance. "They're all the same!" "Why chose between the lesser of two evils!" "It doesn't matter anyway!" "The system is broken!"
Those people may be the vocal extremes of voter apathy, but if history is any indication (and it almost always is in elections), a lot of people won't vote during midterm elections, and those dumb pro-apathy statuses only make me angrier. In fact, I'm angry I didn't write this sooner, but, hey, there are still four more hours left until polls close, so let me explain why not voting is the dumbest vote of all.
Simply Showing Up Matters for Future Elections, Regardless of Whom You Vote for Now
Political campaigns rely heavily on voter turnout expectation and political polling to craft their strategies. Those are based on voter turnout in previous elections. A political campaign reads your decision not to vote not as a protest but as an invitation to ignore issues important to you and your demographic the next time around. Take young voters, for example. They don't show up in great numbers during midterm elections. So candidates during midterm elections don't craft gear campaigns and ensuing efforts toward young people. It's a vicious circle. Politicians won't change it. Only voters in demographics that don't show up during midterm elections can change it by, you know, showing up so politicians pay more attention to them.
At Least Vote for Third-Party or Write-in Candidates
It's not throwing your vote out. The only way to throw your vote out is not to vote. If 60,000 voters between the ages of 18 and 29 wrote in Mickey Mouse to be Florida's next governor in today's election, politicians in 2016 and 2018 would sit around thinking, Well, hmm, how do we get that Mickey Mouse vote for ourselves?
Yes, There Is a Lot of Dirty Money in Campaigns, but Most of That Is Spent to Remind People to Vote
Despite what some people may think, most campaign money is not spent to sway undecided voters one way or another. It is spent to remind people in the politician's own natural base to get out and vote. Over-the-top extreme attack ads (which both campaigns have spent millions on this year) are meant more to rile up their own base rather than to persuade undecided voters (many of whom get turned off by them anyway). Seriously, "Get Out the Vote" and playing to the base costs a lot of money -- money that perhaps campaigns wouldn't need to spend if more Americans reliably went out to vote in the first place.
So people don't vote because they think politics are tainted by money, but most of that money is used to get people to vote -- another odd paradox that could be in part relieved by people voting regularly.
Medical Marijuana Is on the Ballot
Seems like a pretty big cut-and-dried direct democracy thing to me.
The Future of Gay Marriage in Florida Could Be at Stake in the Attorney General's Race
Pam Bondi has said she will continue fighting to uphold Florida's ban on same-sex marriage. George Sheldon says he will let the lower courts' decisions stand and allow same-sex marriage. Again, seems like something I'd want to have a say in.
These Things Add Up
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Florida has a Democratic majority of voters. It's voted for President Obama in the past two elections. Despite this, over the past 16 years the Republican Party has taken control of the state Legislature and has redrawn districts to make it easier to keep it. This happened because Republicans are more likely to vote during midterms than Democrats. More than that, conservative, older Republicans are more likely to vote in those elections than moderate Republicans. They've in turn churned out a lot of controversial right-wing laws (Stand Your Ground anyway), and that's all because younger, moderate, and left-leaning voters are less likely to vote during midterm elections. It didn't happen over one election, but the results of one election affects the next one, and so on and so on, until an Obama-voting state has one of the most right-wing legislatures in the nation.
There Are No Long Lines at Polling Places Reported in Miami-Dade Today, and Polls Are Open Until 7
Find yours here, and don't be afraid to offer some friends in your neighborhood a ride.