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A friend told me she does not plan on voting in November 2020. She's sick of the corruption in Washington, has lost faith in the system, and believes her vote will not count. Why should I waste my time going to the polls or mailing in a ballot, she asked. I attempted to explain why that was a really bad decision but she wasn't hearing me. Now, as I write this, I realize I wasn't hearing her either.

As the adage goes, voting is a right and not a privilege. Likewise, not voting is equally a right. Who am I to feel disappointed, even outraged, when someone pronounces they will not vote in the 2020 election? That answer comes to me easily. I have every right to feel this way since I am a person who votes. Those who don't vote insure that my vote, and the votes of others, will not matter. Is this a fair accusation toward my non-voting brethren? History confirms that it is.

In 2016, I campaigned for Hillary. I did the usual stuff: walked door to door, made phone calls, licked envelopes. I was disappointed when she lost the election but what really surprised me was how wounded I felt then, and continue to feel now, that she lost Florida. I consoled myself by reasoning that at least I had done my part and, because of my small efforts, she won Broward County where I reside. Then, the numbers started to come in. Hillary won the popular vote by approximately three million and lost the electoral college by 77 votes with 7 defectors, the most ever.  

My friend pointed to this as the reason why she felt her vote to be irrelevant. She further justified her feelings by stating 111 million other people feel the same way. (I don't know where she got that stat from). It then became clear to me that she, and others, fail to understand that electoral college votes are directly linked to the popular vote. But, I stopped short of explaining this to her. If I had gone that route, I would have said: if more people in 2016 had voted in swing states like Florida, and Florida had remained blue, then Hillary would have gained those electoral votes. The same for other swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, traditionally democratic states that narrowly went to Trump. If more democrats had gone to the polls, and Hillary had won some of these swing states, we would have had our first female president. While no one can predict the success of a presidency that never was, I think we can say with confidence she would not be the maelstorm of divisiveness that infects the Trump administration. 

I did not explain the electoral college to my friend since I didn't want to sound preachy, I didn't want to come across as patronizing, and she was enjoying her much needed rant. I now know I made a good choice. 

Truth is, after having had time to process her feelings and mine, I realize she is justified in feeling undermined and insignificant, and I feel the same way. I am among the many who feel like hamsters on wheels trying to make our way in a country where leaders have smashed our trust into millions of shards of glass. In the dictionary, this would be synonymous with the feeling of defeat. A feeling so strong that many believe there is no point in trying/voting.

I too wonder if my vote will matter in 2020, but this fear will not keep me from the polls. If the millions of people who do not want Trump to have a second term choose not to vote, he will definitely be our president for four more years. 

So what am I going to do? This election year, as in years past, I am going to become educated on the candidates on the national and local levels. I am going to cast the best votes I can, knowing in this election season--as in 2016--votes will mean nothing if every eligible voter doesn't go to the polls. Those who voted for Hillary were thwarted by those who would have voted for her but chose not to participate. For whatever their reasons--not happy with either choice for president, hatred of the Clintons--the result of such abstinance is staring us in our faces. I get that there are other reasons Hillary did not win, however the one thing we can control is our private moments at the voting booths. 

It is our right to vote. It is also our right not to vote. If you are one of the millions who say they will not vote in 2020, or you know people who feel this way, please consider voting or encouraging them to vote. This is imperative so the right to vote has meaning. I understand it feels like defeat before we even try, but at least we will have tried.

How about we make a deal? I'll vote. You vote. And we'll make each others' votes count. Then at least if we have four more years of Trump, we can consol ourselves that we did all we could to lead our country in a better, less divisive direction. 

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Joanne Lewis Blog


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Joanne Lewis Blog

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Joanne Lewis Blog