Today’s Assignment: Register to Vote

More writing on The Human Division today, less time here. I know. I miss you too. But I’ll miss not having a mortgage payment when I finish this thing more.

While I am gone, a question:

If you are a US Citizen, have you registered to vote yet?

If you haven’t, another question:

What the hell is wrong with you?

If you haven’t, I’m just going to leave these here for you:

The National Mail Voter Registration form (in seven different languages!) and links to election Web sites for every state, commonwealth and US Territory.

It’s important that you make sure you are registered to vote and that you know the laws of your state regarding what you need to identify yourself when you come in to vote (here’s what you need for the state of Ohio, for example). The longer you put this off, the more chance you have to be unpleasantly surprised by requirements you did not know about.

Yes, there’s an entire conversation to have about “voter fraud” and laws being passed to “combat” it, and yes, those scare quotes are there for a very good reason. However, that’s an argument to have some other time. Right now, what I want you to focus on as as a prospective voter is this: Don’t be surprised, do know what hoops your state is going to make you jump through on election day, and jump through those hoops. Don’t go to the polls unaware.

Likewise, it’s fashionable or at least common for people to present some weary affect about voting, like “I live in a red state and vote blue, so it’s not as if my vote will matter anyway” (or vice versa) or “One vote doesn’t actually matter, because elections don’t come down to a single vote, and here are the bundle of statistics I have to make that point” or “My polling place is in a church and I don’t like God seeing my ballot.” To which I say, again, what the hell is wrong with you? I live in a part of Ohio where statistically speaking seven out of ten of my neighbors vote differently than I do, and I haven’t missed a vote because I get to vote and I get my say. An election will probably never come down to my one vote, but my one vote says something about who I am as a person and as a citizen. I don’t vote for anyone else. I vote for me. You should vote for you, too. Whether your one vote is a voice lost in a chorus or a voice crying out in the wilderness, it’s still your voice.

And, yes, I will judge you if you can vote and don’t.

(I’ll also judge you if you can vote and do, but don’t bother to become sufficiently aware of who and what is on the ballot. But that’s also for another time.)

So: US citizens: Have you registered to vote yet? Let me know below.

321 Comments on “Today’s Assignment: Register to Vote”

  1. I am serious about the whole “let’s not actually talk about the voter fraud thing here” thing, incidentally. For the purposes of this particular comment thread, I don’t care what your position is on the topic. What I care about, for the purposes of this comment thread, is whether you are registered to vote or not. I’ll go ahead and Mallet any comment that doesn’t answer that particular question.

    So again: US Citizens: Are you registered to vote? And if not, what the hell is wrong with you?

  2. Registered to vote in Washington, DC. Despite not having representation in Congress, the District does have two electoral votes, and I’m going to make darn sure I have my say in where those go.

    Plus assorted local candidates and issues.


  3. I’m a registered Democrat, but I plan to vote for a ‘third party’ candidate (there are more than three parties, thankyouverymuch – I hate the term ‘third party’) in the upcoming presidential election. My arguments supporting “throwing my vote away” run along much the same lines as your arguments for voting blue in a red state. Thanks for spelling them out.

  4. Kevin, DC has three electoral votes! The electoral college itself consists of 538 votes (100 senators, 435 representatives, and 3 for DC). Thank you 23rd Amendment!

  5. Question for you (and any other Americans that would like to chime in): how do you feel about dual citizens voting? I’m Canadian, have lived in Canada my whole life, but also have American citizenship through a parent. I have no intention of living in the States for any significant length of time and no real ties there beyond extended family. And yet I can still vote.

    In ’08 I decided not to, and still feel the same way now, but I am curious to see what people have to say. For me it comes down to the fact that I have no real stake in the election. Sure there’s all kinds of Canada/US shenanigans, but the fact is that Obama is *their* president, not *my* president. Thoughts?

  6. Registered voter since my 18th birthday. I also recommend taking your kids with you to vote. I remember my mother taking me and telling me about how women didn’t have the right only a few decades earlier. Please let train the future voters how important our one say in the government is. My kids fight over the Vote sticker.

  7. People who bug me to vote, make me want to vote for candidates they don’t like. The true value of not being registered to vote is that I don’t get called for jury duty. I have not had to go for jury duty since the 1990s.

    In 2008 an Obama campaign person came to my house and when I told her I was not registered to vote she asked me if I was an illegal alien.

  8. Monach:

    That’s off topic for the thread here, so I’d rather not go into it. But for everyone else assume that “US Citizen” means “primarily see yourself as a US citizen and/or live and work in the US.”

  9. I’m not only registered, but already voted. I filled out the absentee ballot Saturday and it went to the post office yesterday. I’m an American Expat, so I only get to vote for the President, Senate, and House of Representatives – only the offices that run the entire country, rather than the state or local offices. That means I only have elections to vote in every two years. This year I had three bubbles to fill in, which is the most I ever get.

    It does make election research easy.

    It also makes election research easy when one party is the party of “OMG GAYS AND SLUTS WILL DESTROY OUR COUNTRY!!!!111!!!” I really wish the Republicans would finish self-destructing and reinvent themselves as a viable choice.

  10. When people are encouraged to vote, they’re often told that “every vote counts” and cite some story or other when an election was decided by one or a few votes. (My favorite was from a neighboring county a few years ago, when two men were running for mayor and the vote was a tie. They did a recount and it was still a tie. So they decided the winner by tossing a coin.)

    But our duty as citizens is not to cast the deciding vote in close elections, because the odds of that happening to us personally make that an unrealistic expectation. Our duty is simply to say which issue or candidate we support, and we do people a disservice when we appeal to their narcissistic desire to make the decisive difference in every election.

    And because the Electoral College often comes up in voting discussions, it’s worth remembering that the institution is in place to give the states a say in who becomes president. In other words, I’m not voting for president, I’m voting for who my state will vote for as president.

  11. Register? Heck, my absentee ballot is already filled out and ready to be dropped off tomorrow when Iowa’s early voting period opens.

  12. I’m registered to vote. I’m compelled to vote precisely because I’m in the minority in my congressional district. My representative does not represent me, but I feel it’s my responsibility to take every opportunity to rub his nose in that fact none the less.

  13. Registered in DC, voted in the Democratic primary, will probably use early voting in the biggie.

    I’ve always registered and voted, except for the six years I lived in Canada (I skipped the primaries in those years).

    If you don’t vote, don’t whine.

  14. I’m registered, and I double checked my registration status to make sure that I haven’t been un-registered through some type of shenanigans.

  15. Whew! Yes, I am registered to vote in Texas, and that gets me off the hook for answering the “what’s wrong with you?” question. Man, that would take FOREVER to type up.

  16. Registered (since my teens), got my absentee ballot on Monday, and sent it back the same day. A welcome contrast to the Greek system (since I took dual citizenship in order to work here, I’m obliged to participate in the elections here): you go to the polling place, which is assigned to your place of birth (or a parent’s place of birth if you were born out-of-country) – the procedures for changing your polling place are arcane and may involve voodoo sacrifices to the Olympian gods – and you get handed an envelope and a pile of large strips of paper, with no instructions. It took a while and some questions before I figured out I was supposed to pick a slip and stuff it in the envelope. And in municipal elections, it makes even less sense.

  17. Also, your ballot likely has plenty of other questions besides who should be President of the United States. If you don’t vote, you don’t have a say in any of those choices either.

  18. Registered voter. Not affiliated with any particular party. Generally vote Democrat for national and state level things, and try to go Green or something similar for local/regional. Occasionally I vote Libertarian-ish if the candidate in question is not a Tea Partier.

  19. Registered and received my voter card in the mail. It’s important to double check your registration even if you voted in 2008. Many places are purging voter rolls if you miss a single general election (say 2010). For my part, I never miss a chance to vote and haven’t skipped an election since I turned 18 (more years than I care to admit).

  20. I love voting. It is the BEST THING. Seriously. I have voted every time I’ve been able to since I registered when I was 18 years old. I voted earlier this month in a state primary–we had hot primaries for county executive and insurance commissioner–and when I finished, I got a round of applause from the poll workers (I think they were bored; turnout was super-low).

  21. Registered since 18, never missed a Presidential election, even though I inhabit a blue city in a red state.

  22. Hell yes. I vote every time. I almost forgot to update my address when we moved earlier this year, but I got that done. Changed my party affiliation to Unaffiliated as well. I honestly don’t know who I’m voting for for president, but, I’ll figure it out.

  23. I remember walking home one evening in Milwaukee, and listening to a guy explain to a girl why he didn’t vote. His justification was that he didn’t want his vote canceled out by some low information voter. I laughed out loud when I heard this. He never realized that the low information voter wins in that case. I didn’t stick around long enough to see if the guy managed to impress the girl or not.

  24. I’m a US citizen and I’m registered to vote. As a matter of fact I got my voting forms today. I am a duel citizen and I live in Australia but I did live in the US for two years and I feel a deep connection with the country and it’s a chance to have my say!

  25. The illegal alien thing notwithstanding (which I’ll agree was disgusting and I’m sorry you had that happen to you), but using shirking of civic duty to defend shirking of civic duty really sets my teeth on edge. Jury duty may seem like an inconvenience to you, but to the potentially innocent defendant or the victims of a potentially guilty defendant, they rely on intelligent, engaged people to make sure they don’t suffer further. That’s a juror’s responsibility, more than the judge or lawyers.

  26. Registered when I turned 18.

    Never missed a national election, have only missed two local elections that I know of, because (since I don’t get the local paper) I didn’t know there were levys (levies?) to vote on.

    Been on the jury duty pool twice and never called, was called for Grand Jury duty once and was proud to be able to serve.

    Women couldn’t vote when my grandmother was born. Voting was seen as so important during the 50s and 60s that people were murdered registering people.

    Damn right I vote.

  27. Absolutely registered! I had a professor who used to say things like “If you can’t read – or you DON’T read – then you are illiterate.” When asked about whether voting matters by a student who was adamant that it didn’t (and who wasn’t registered and proud of it), he responded “If you don’t vote, you might as well be an indentured servant. Democracy is an action.” He then refused to teach the last half hour of class and instead talked about voting and why it matters. Love that professor.

  28. For Australians: if you’re 16 or over, you can enrol to vote. If you’re 18 or over and an Australian citizen, you should already be enrolled to vote, since voting in Australia is compulsory (in practical terms, the compulsory bit is turning up to receive your ballot papers at a polling place on election day. What you do with the ballot papers afterward is up to you, since we have a secret ballot. If you so desired, you could eat them, although why you’d want to is beyond me).
    If you’re an Australian citizen, and you’re eligible to vote, and you haven’t enrolled to vote (or your details on the electoral roll have altered since the last time you voted) you can get up to date online at the website for the Australian Electoral Commission.

    Enrolling to vote (new voters)

    Checking electoral enrolment (existing voters)

    (For folks from outside Australia, the AEC website also has a lot of information about the way that the Australian electoral system on a federal and state level is organised.)

  29. I was first eligible to vote in the 1980 presidential election and have been a compulsive voter ever since: national, state and local. Never underestimate the importance of a local election, by the way, no matter how small. That’s how the whackadoo gets started.

  30. I am registered, and I have missed only one election since I turned 18 – in 2006 I had an emergency appendectomy instead. I am also actively involved in efforts to empower ALL legal voters in my home state. Per request, I will say no more here.

  31. For someone living outside the U.S. the idea of “registering” for voting seems completely alien. Either you have the right to vote, than you can show up on election day and do it or you don’t.

  32. I’m gegistered, I vote in every election my state holds, and I have worked as an election judge in most elections in the past 15 or so years. I highly recommend being a poll worker to anyone who can take Election Day off, or works from home and can fit it in, or is retired and physically able. It’s a long, long day and can be exhausting, but it gives you a close-up view of how voting works on the ground, with some glitches and some frustrations but a lot of honest hard work by ordinary citizens who make the system operate. I apologize if this is off topic, but I think voting is so very important, and there’s nothing like working at the polls to get a sense of regular people doing their civic duty, whoever they may be voting for. The hype fades away when you’re in that room, the antagonism between parties becomes irrelevant, and it’s you and your neighbors participating in one of the things our system of government has going *for* it.

  33. Martin, you have the right to vote, but it’s a question of whether you have the right to vote for the candidates in a particular precinct, which include local offices as well as statewide and national offices. I don’t necessarily want people from another state voting for my state legislature or county council.

  34. I’m registered (at least, I was as of last election and I haven’t moved or anything), but all these reminders are making me a bit paranoid about ‘but am I sure?’.

    As I live in a very blue state, I’m more likely to consider third parties for President than if I lived in a state where Obama and Romney were close in the polls. It’s a bit cynical of me, but I was 17 (and paying very close attention to politics as I’d be an adult soon) in 2000*, and we don’t have a system where I can say ‘I like Candidate B best, but I’d prefer Candidate A over Candidate C’.

    * I don’t know if third parties mattered in ’00 when all was said and done, but people were sure willing to blame the Greens.

  35. Hell yeah, registered to vote! I proudly sport my ‘I voted’ sticker every time. I figure if I don’t vote, I can’t complain if I don’t like the results.

  36. I am indeed registered to vote. And today, we’re all Voters. Well. Not today. Metaphorically speaking. Whatever. I KNOW HOW TO VOTE. Don’t judge me.

  37. Yup! When I moved from Germany to the Netherlands a few years ago I forgot to notify my hometown voter registrar, and she actually emailed me to say “hey, your ballot came back, did you move or something?” Love small towns!

    And yea verily, U.S. elections affect the hell out of other countries (cough*Iraq*cough), so even if I live Outside, whenever I have a vote I’m gonna use it.

  38. Yes, I’m registered and intend to vote. Right now, I’m more concerned about making sure my college kids get their absentee ballots.

  39. But our duty as citizens is not to cast the deciding vote in close elections, because the odds of that happening to us personally make that an unrealistic expectation. Our duty is simply to say which issue or candidate we support, and we do people a disservice when we appeal to their narcissistic desire to make the decisive difference in every election.

    Oh piffle. I’m pretty sure that people are smart enough to understand that their chances of being the actual deciding vote are small, and that “every vote counts” is just code for a citizen’s responsibility to go to the polls.

    Also, your definition of “our duty as citizens” is not necessarily everyone else’s.

    I’m registered, in Maryland.

  40. I re-registered when I renewed my driver’s license (we’ve moved since the last Presidential election); they took care of it for me and I got the card in the mail. I have also verified my polling place, so I know where I’m supposed to go.

    I’m terribly cynical about the whole thing and I’m not convinced my voice actually makes a difference, but I do it anyway, just in case…

  41. Registered on my 18th birthday. When my step daughter turned 18 her mother put a voter registration card in her birthday card.

    If you are capable of voting and don’t vote or register I don’t want to hear you complain about political problems in the US. And not registering to vote won’t get you out of jury duty. They take names from the DMV and other sources as well. So that’s a cheap cop out.

  42. I am registered and vote in every election that I can possibly make to the polls which is pretty much every election.
    Point of Information for this year:
    If you live in Pennsylvania, you’ll need a valid ID to vote this year. Here is info from the PA ACLU Website:
    Acceptable IDs for Voting

    Starting with the November 6, 2012 election, you will be required to show photo ID to vote in person, even if you have voted at the same place for years.

    Only some types of photo ID will be accepted. Please note that your photo ID must be CURRENT and include an EXPIRATION DATE.

    The name on your photo ID should closely match your name in the voter registry.

    Accepted IDs:

    Pennsylvania driver’s license (may be expired up to one year from Election Day)
    PennDOT non-driver photo ID (may be expired up to one year from Election Day)
    PA Dept. of State “for voting only” photo ID (available through PennDOT – more info on the back)
    U.S. passport
    U.S. government-issued photo ID
    Commonwealth of Pennsylvania-issued photo ID
    U.S. military or Pennsylvania National Guard photo ID (can say expiration date is indefinite)
    Pennsylvania municipal employee photo ID
    Accredited Pennsylvania college- or university-issued photo ID
    Pennsylvania nursing/personal-care facility photo ID

    Medicare/Medicaid cards, Access cards, Dept. of Veterans Affairs cards, school district employee IDs, and high school IDs will NOT be accepted.

    If you do not have a valid photo ID to vote, you can get one for FREE from PennDOT.

  43. Here in MN the SoS office web site will provide you with a complete sample ballot for your exact precinct! Its great, no more wondering who is running for Dist. 4 Soil and Water Conservation Board, or who is this district judge & their opponent. I printed mine out, started investigating the folks running for each office (and the constitutional amendments up for a vote) and making my choices. I’ll mark my sample & take it with – no surprises & the only disappointment will be if my selections don’t win.

  44. I updated my voter registration the other week with the help of some nice volunteers at a Planned Parenthood booth on campus. My voter registration card arrived in the mail earlier this week, with all the information correct.

    When I go to the website for checking to see if I’m registered to vote, it says it has no idea who I am and of course I’m not registered.

    Unsurprisingly, I live in Texas.

  45. I’m 42, and I registered the day after my 18th birthday. I haven’t missed a vote yet, and I’m not missing this one.

  46. yep, registered! and if you want/need to vote in Oregon, get registered ASAP! you need to be registered 30 days prior to election day (for an explanation of where this rule came from, google antelope, oregon and what happened there…)

  47. US citizen, registered to vote, working the election for the city as an election judge.

    Here in Minnesota you have been able to register to vote on the day of the election. This year, our bitter, ex-Sec of State has proposed a constitutional amendment to fix that little issue and require voter IDs. We vote on the amendment in the upcoming general election.

  48. I am registered to vote. I registered the day I turned 18, and have maintained that status for 20+ years.

    I exercise my right to vote at every opportunity.

  49. Been registered to vote since I was old enough to vote. Registered independent in New Hampshire but lately haven’t been finding any Republicans that I can vote for in good conscience…wish I could…we need two parties with differing but rational positions. I’ve got both a driving license and a US passport so I’d be very upset if they told me I still don’t have enough documentation to be allowed to cast my ballot on election day. My current struggle is becoming informed enough about the state and local issues on the ballot so that I can feel I’ve made informed choices there…

  50. Registered, but we also moved recently so have to find the new place.

    The old one was in a church, which was odd…


  51. It occurs to thought I’d like to make an addendum to Mr. Scalzi’s plea.
    If you are not going to take the time to actually learn something about the people and questions on your ballot, if you cannot articulate what you expect the office to do for you and the community it serves, if you cannot identify some coherent reasons why the one candidate gets your vote – please do not register, do not vote. Instead lock yourself in the basement and watch while the world moves around you. You will still be amazed when things don’t work out the way you wanted but at least you can honestly admit you had nothing to do with it.

    This message has been brought to you by the Ignorance Is Not Bliss So Stop Inflicting Yours On the Rest Of Us committee and is intended for audiences of every political stripe.

  52. Me and a buddy registered when we signed up for Selective Service. I vote. For all those out there who don’t, THANKS!! Just makes my vote worth that much more.

  53. Haven’t missed a vote in 20 years.

    @Guess–You refuse to register to vote because you don’t like jury duty? Golly, citizenship is *such* a pain in the ass, isn’t it?

  54. I remember a South Park episode (season 8, episode 8) that presents a fairly robust antithesis to your position. :)

  55. Registered in my deeply red state, voted twice already this year (trying to get the Tea Party stains out of the Republican party via the primary system. Unsuccessfully.) Ready for early voting.

  56. Registered to vote more than a decade ago, when I moved into the current place. But this post reminded me to double-check that they hadn’t tried to pull my registration or anything like that – thank you!

    Not doing the early/absentee voting thing, but just because I’m privileged (intentional choice of words) to have my voting location right in my homeowners association clubhouse, and we live on the smaller side, so generally have no line at all when we go in to vote on the way to work.

  57. I registered when I was 18 and have voted in every election since. It helps that Washington State is all vote-by-mail now. There should be a constitutional amendment that you don’t get to complain about politics if you don’t vote.

  58. Despite living in the US for nearly twelve years, this will the first presidential election where I will be able to vote. I have registered to vote, and indeed have already voted in a couple of ballot measures here in Oregon.

  59. California let me register as “Permanent Absentee Voter” when I last moved… have NEVER missed an election because I couldn’t get to the polls!

  60. This will be my first Federal Election as a US Citizen, and I did vote in the primaries, and will vote in the federal elections. This election stuff is not easy, but it is absolutely the duty of every American, no matter which way they vote. Too many people are dying all over the world for the right which many now take for granted, not to vote.

  61. I’m registered to (and do) vote, I’m taking a vacation day to work for the county as an election judge, and I’ve never been called for jury duty in any of the jurisdictions where I’ve lived.

  62. Hell to the YEAH! I’ve been registered since I turned 18 and I’ve never missed a vote. I’m waiting with bated breath to receive my ballot next month. Not only do I get to vote for POTUS, but we have a gubernatorial election (I’m sad that the incumbent has decided to retire instead of running for a third term), a marijuana legalization measure, and marriage equality on the ballot this year. SO EXCITING!

    And I would like to add that was proud and excited both times I’ve been called for jury duty. The first case ended in a plea bargain before I was able to serve, and the second time I had to be excused. I look forward to the next time I am called to serve on a jury, and I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to do so. How can you consider yourself a citizen if you don’t participate in citizenship? Baffling.

  63. I’m registered in Massachusetts. Any Massachusetts residents who aren’t registered, what are you waiting for? You still have time (the deadline’s October 17th) and it’s easy to do via the mail, in person, or at the RMV if you need to renew your license.

    Eric @September 26, 2012 at 9:46 am and David @September 26, 2012 at 10:30 am,

    Don’t underestimate the effect a small change can have. I figured out once that in the 2000 elections, if we ignore the whole Florida situation, a change of a 3,606 votes from Bush to Gore in New Hampshire would have given Gore the state and exactly the 270 electoral votes needed for the presidency (Gore 269,954 to Bush 269,953.) Given that 569,081 votes were cast in total in the state, that’s about six tenths of a percent of the voters in that state that would have needed to vote differently to change the election. [Citation: Wikipedia’s page on “United States presidential election, 2000”]

  64. I’m definitely registered to vote.

    In addition, Codeweavers (a company helping to develop the wine software for Linux distributions) is having a promotion to get 100K committed voters, and they will give away their software (not sure for how long) when they reach that goal.

  65. Registered, and a poll worker. A couple of weeks after you register, check with your town clerk/ county clerk/ whoever, and make sure everything was done correctly, no mistakes were made, and you are in fact registered.

  66. I’m registered, and looking forward to getting my mail-in voter pack (all of Washington State is now by mail-in, although you also have the option of going to a polling place). But I have so far been unsuccessful at persuading my 19 year old son to register.
    Despite access to a variety of information sources, and a reasonably good civics class in high school, he is firmly in the “my efforts can’t possibly matter and they’re all scoundrels anyway” camp. Reason and facts don’t seem to have an effect, and I’m soon going to resort to the philosophically uncomfortable Do It Because I Say So – not something a parent likes to resort to when the goal is raising a competent adult.

  67. I am registered to vote in Florida and can’t wait for my absentee ballot to show up in my mail box.

    In case anyone is unsure about their status, this site allowed me to easily double check my info (which was important for me to do since, you know, FLORIDA.)

  68. Registered since 18 and voted since 1980. Voted ever since then including an absentee ballot when I was in the Navy.
    And Nevada now has online registration so there is no earthly reason not to register here. Big article in the local paper this morning on just that.

  69. I’ve missed the last two elections. Granted, they were a mostly-unopposed-ticket primary a couple months ago and a mostly-foregone-conclusion off-cycle local-only election last year, but I still found myself feeling bad about that, like I forgot to pay a bill that I owed myself.

    Four years ago, the high school that is my district’s polling place had a line 300 people long when the polls opened in the morning. Instead of waiting, I went to work early, got OUT of work early, and came back. Better than half of the registered voters in the precinct had voted by the time I got there. Folks around here seem to realize that it’s important, even though this is an area that most politicians don’t spend any money on, because they already know which way it’s going to go.

    So, for what it’s worth, my neighborhood seems to agree with you: it’s important.

  70. Registered here in California, and I vote by mail. I LOVE voting by mail. I know for some people it is fun to go to a physical location on the day of the election, but I’m not a fan. With my mail-in ballot, I can sit in my living room, look up candidates I’m not familiar with on the internet, debate issues with the boyfriend before we finish our ballots. It is a very comfortable and fun way to participate.

  71. As a resident of King County (aka Seattle) I am registered and looking forward to voting by mail sometime the middle of next month. Please forgive the Godwin, but as a descendant of prople who had the right to vote specifically taken away from them, I see voting as a mandatory function.

  72. I’ve been registered in New Mexico for the past ~20 years, and I’ve taken my daughter with me when I go to vote since before she could walk. As soon as she was old enough to understand what I was doing, I continued taking her so that she could learn why and how to vote. I had never been taught how or why myself and had to wing it when I started voting in my early 20s.

    My daughter turns 18 about 5 weeks after this year’s Presidential election and she’s SO upset that she can’t vote for a President until 2016. After hearing her talk about debates in her Government class and seeing how much this election means to her, my 45 year old boyfriend registered to vote last week for the first time EVER IN HIS LIFE! He’s going vote in his first Presidential (or any!) election and I couldn’t be prouder of him.

  73. If you’re in CA, you can register to vote online ( There are very many initiatives on the ballot this year, so even though CA is almost certainly in the bag for the President, you should register and vote for the state and local stuff. (And in CA you can also register as a permanent absentee voter, so you get a ballot in the mail, can take the time to learn about the candidates and initiatives, and vote by mail at your leisure. DO IT!)

  74. Martin Seeger–States require registering to vote so that, as inferred above, the Rajneeshies don’t bus a couple hundred homeless citizens to Antelope, Oregon to affect the local elections. You need to live in the state/county/town to vote in the local elections and those localities also administer voting for national and state-wide elections.

    A US citizen that doesn’t vote absentee or live in a blessed state like Oregon with early or mail-in voting must vote in the one particular place set aside for voting for the address where you live. My precinct is in a school gymnasium down the road.

    Registering takes care of all that.

  75. There is one “downside” to registering: It gets you on the jury roster (as does getting a driver’s license). In C, that means I get called for jury duty essentially every two years.

    Why so frequently? Because DC has lots of non-drivers, and it has lots of people who, because of felony convictions, aren’t eligible to vote. It also has a lot of crime, mostly drug-related and auto theft, so there’s a lot of call for jurors. But I view jury duty as a benefit of citizenship, not a cost, especially since my employer (the federal government) pays me my salary while I serve. (I concede it might be a hardship if I were the sole owner and operator of, say, a shoe-repair shop.)

  76. Registered. To those that say “well my vote won’t matter”, it does matter if only for this single point: If your demographics (age, ethnicity, group, what have you) is being recognized as voting in high numbers, politicians and special interest groups will start to pay attention to you, or at the very least have to think about how your group(s) will react to their actions. For this reason alone, it is important to vote, even if you are going to vote for an established minority.

  77. Yes I am registered to vote.
    I am generally leary of blanket statements but “Don’t go to the polls unaware.” is a good one on many levels.
    As a citizen of the USA you aren’t required to do much. For our system to work there are a couple of minimal things you should do. #1 vote, #2 jury duty. That is not much to ask for freedom. As a bonus you get to bitch endlessly about whatever silly thing is pissing you off. You can bitch even if you don’t vote but it will be pathetic.

  78. Registered and will vote.

    Also, pleased to perform jury service when called on and — now that I’m more-or-less permanently settled — active participant in local government.

    I don’t give a crap what someone’s birth certificate says or how big their flag is. If they’re able to participate, they should do so or shut the frak up.

  79. Registered to vote in NC, voted in the primary, plan to use early voting once it opens in my county.

    My 19yo kid is also registered and voted in the primary. I assume he plans to vote in November. I’ll have to remember to turn him on to early voting. My 17yo will not be old enough to vote by election day. I’ll have to get him to register after his birthday.)

    Interesting (and a little scary) to think that this will likely be the last election I vote in here in this county, maybe in this state. Add one more little detail to the Things to Do When I Move list…

  80. Had to re-register because we moved about a year ago, but that’s accomplished and the registration cards — which, here in California, we’re not required to show in order to vote — are safely stashed away. I’m looking forward to voting – for some folks, against others.

    To those who believe that registering to vote means you become eligible for jury duty: in most jurisdictions these days, the courts use other databases in addition to that of registered voters to choose potential jurors, such as the list of those who have driver’s licenses. Not registering and not voting because you might get called up as a juror is not a good reason in any event, as being a juror once or twice in a lifetime is an important civic obligation. With all that the courts do for you if you need them (like to get married, change your name, participate in a class action suit, declare bankruptcy, fight a foreclosure on your home, sue for damages if you’re hit by a motorist, or any of a myriad of other uses), you can afford a day of your time (the average for most called for the pool) a few times in your life.

  81. I’ve been registered to vote in Hamilton County, OH (a few different addresses, always been careful to notify the BOE when I’ve moved) since I was nineteen years old, and Jimmy Carter was running against Gerald Ford.

    As a matter of preference, I prefer to show up at the polls on Election Day, though I have nothing against people who choose to vote early.

  82. I actually need to double check to make sure I am still registered to vote, because the Washington State Secretary of State’s office pulled a massive bonehead stunt and ran a cross check between the voter registration rolls and the state drivers’ license holders database, and apparently kicked out any voters whose data didn’t match 1-1 with that in the Department of Licensing’s records, whether that match failure was an error in either database, or in the comparison software algorithm. As if there is any reason to believe that everyone who is registered to vote will have a driver’s license.

    But, barring misguided bureaucratic efforts to “validate” my registration, yes, I am registered to vote, and have been since I turned 18. I consider it a basic duty of citizenship to register, and vote, and, when called, to serve on juries. The power to exercise my franchise is mine, hard won by women who died before I was born, and with it, comes the responsibility to exercise that franchise. The responsibility to serve on juries is basic golden rule stuff — if I want to have access to fair, impartial, thoughtful, and responsible juries should I ever need one, I had damn’ well better be willing to serve on one, myself. None of this is exactly rocket science.

  83. I’m registered to vote, and have missed one election in the last 20+ years. I am now registered permanent absentee in CA and got my confirmation postcard a few weeks ago. CA has just implemented online registration. You have until Oct 22 to register at as long as you have a signature on file with the DMV. There’s also a link on that page to check your registration status.

  84. I thought that I was already registered, but I went through the online form anyway to change my party affiliation. Thanks for the heads up and the links, John.

  85. I registered to vote within a week of moving to NY last year, and I’ve voted in every election since then.

    That said, I moved here from California. In California, even when the candidate elections were foregone conclusions, there were initiatives and referenda to vote on. Here in NYC, the candidate elections are all foregone conclusions – *even in the partisan primaries*, which were almost all incumbents running unopposed.

    I’ll vote, because I vote. But it feels utterly pointless.

  86. Not only am I registered to vote, I have missed only one election since I turned 18 (many, many years ago) when my registration was “pulled” because they decided I needed to tell them again that I was out of country (after the first time when it was supposed to be indeterminate). Luckily, it was an off year election. I want to say that NY has its stuff together: secure web site to download my ballot, received the first of two last week (and the second next) and it will be in the mail on Friday (after I put the cute little envelopes together from the provided pdfs). We live in the future.

    As for dual citizens- I think they should vote. Always remembering that all US citizens (dual or not) and permanent residents are required by law to file a US tax return (as well as other tax filings in certain cases) every single year.

  87. Andrea, speaking of voting by mail … there’s a pernicious myth that late absentee ballots (that is, the ones turned in to the polling places on election day) are only counted if the election is otherwise close.

    This myth is ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE. In every state in the country, these are required to be counted. They won’t be counted on election night; the people doing the counts have to check to make sure you didn’t vote in precinct and have to compare the signature to the record file signature, and that takes time. But they *will* be counted and included in the official totals, which typically come 3-4 weeks after the election.

  88. I’m registered since I turned 18, voted in almost every election, bar a local runoff that I had to miss one year (and nobody shows up for runoffs, so my vote would have counted for 1/2 – 1%). I know from experience how much my vote counts, and where. The goal isn’t always to have the guy on your ballot win this year – sometimes it’s to measure his, his running mate’s, or his campaigners’ effectiveness for other things. George H.W. Bush, for example, lost his first campaigns deep down in Southern Democrat country, and that loss was inevitable. I’ve been told that one precinct had few enough Republicans that their primary was held at a card table in the chairman’s house. But his performance in spite of that loss mattered, and made his first elections into stepping stones. Your vote, whether for local or national office, is a gamble the future. If you vote for town dog catcher (which you have a much greater say in), then you may be elevating that guy’s future career when he guns for a larger office, whether it’s elected or appointed. You need to vote for everything you reasonably can, and you need to take that vote seriously.

  89. I am registered voter but actively abstain from voting in most elections. It’s relatively easy to find a trainer for my horses or a farmer to till my soil: The trainer and farmer improves and perfects livestock and soil in their own proper virtue and excellence; but as for human beings, whom are you thinking of placing over them? Is there anyone who understands human and political virtue? Let’s face it, we don’t have anyone like Evenus the Parian running for office today.

    My abstention is an extension of my belief in Surowieki’s “Wisdom of the Crowd”. My knowledge of political affairs and the ideal society is severely limited. Because I’m ignorant and incapable of discerning the relevant information from the spurious noise surrounding the vote, there’s a 50% probability that my vote is erroneous. My abstention, my deference to the vote of the majority — given that Surowieki’s proposition is correct — is the only logical choice.

  90. I am registered to vote, I just checked. I check every year because a few election cycles back I was unregistered by some third party submitting large numbers of false challenges to voter registrations. In order to avoid attracting the mallet I won’t speculate on the motives of the folks who did that, I’ll just say: even if you think you are registered, go check. Make sure.

  91. In my house the phrase is “if you didn’t vote, you can’t bitch.” I take my kid to the polls with me so he gets to know what that looks like too. And, as an added bonus, if I time my vote-casting appearance right I might get to gawk at the one or two famous people who live in my town and show up VERY early to cast their votes, so there’s a carrot for getting it done.

  92. Registered, and voted in every primary and general election in my little slice of Northern Virginia since 2003. So it figures I’d be living in a swing state… when there are no candidates I want to vote *for.* Sigh.

  93. @paigevest: I turned 18 seven weeks after the 1976 presidential election. I completely sympathize with your daughter! It’s been 36 years and I remember that frustration like it was yesterday. The day I finally turned 18, my coworkers at my after-school job took me to city hall, where I registered to vote.

    I haven’t missed an election since, not even during the decade I lived in Canada. This is my country, and I owe it my votes, and jury duty, and paying my fair share of taxes. I am so grateful for Washington state’s mail-in voting policies, because there have been a couple elections recently where my health would have made voting hard, but with too little notice to get an absentee ballot.

    My voting packet will arrive soon, and I am all ready to go when it gets here. My partner is not a US citizen, just as I am not a Canadian citizen, so I am the only voter in our household. Makes me take it even more seriously, if such a thing is possible.

  94. Washington state (and Oregon, where I went to grad school) votes by mail, and that’s dead easy; why WOULDN’T I vote?

    The downside of vote-by-mail is that I’ve never gotten to go in person to a polling place and pull a lever and get a sticker. I realise vote-by-mail is supposed to be more secure, which is nice, but I wish I had that other experience.

  95. @beartriangle:


    Who are you, Simon Stylite? You are a member of a reasonably democratic society, you have an obligation to participate in the running of said society. Your undergraduate philosophy-inspired apathy makes you functionally indistinguishable from actual apathetic people. Get on your bike and vote.

  96. I’ll vote but it is a perfectly respectable decision to not. There are few actions in life with less import than the individual vote, at least on the federal level.
    If I vote or not, the result in my winner take all state would be exactly the same.
    And if by some magic my one vote sways the choice from one president to the other the result would be pretty much the same.
    Either way:
    Will the U.S. still be droning innocent people abroad? Yep.
    Will we still spend far more than we take in, even if we repeal the Bush tax cuts? Yep.
    Will we continue to ignore the massive entitlement debt spiral our country is sliding down? Yep.
    Will we still threaten Iran with war? Yep.
    Will we still fight the drug war until the last drug warrior dies? Yep.
    Will the Dems and Repubs continue to stifle ideas and candidates from third parties? Yep.
    Are the countries where people democratically select their representatives still the best places to live? Er, yes, and that’s one reason why I vote. That and it’s kinda fun, like buying the occasional lottery ticket.

  97. Been registered and voted since 1976. All four of my children are registered and have voted before. First presidential election for all of them.

    Non-voters who are eligible should pay a $100 tax (it’s a tax, not a penalty) for not voting (a la Healthcare), for each election missed, federal, state and local. Voting is not just a Right, it is our joint Responsibility.

  98. I worked as a low level minion for Elections Ontario in a by-election* held in a riding where, among other issues, something like 60,000 students had moved to town that week. We went through a lot of F-0521s but of all the people whose registration had issues who showed up to vote, there was only one we had to turn away because we could not establish they had the right to vote in that riding (note: it was not a case of attempted fraud).

    * Although as an EO minion I have no opinion on the desirability of any outcome, it was actually a by-election whose outcome mattered, as the Liberal provincial government was (and still is) one seat short of a majority and because as a seat that had been Progressive Conservative for 22 years, losing it would have been something of a black eye for the PC’s leader Hudak (already slated to lose the by-election over in Vaughn, a safe Liberal riding). As it turned out the NDP (social democrats) took the seat.

  99. We’ve got vote-by-mail in Washington, and I must say I miss going to the polls. I miss lining up with my neighbors and participating in something as a community. I may be old-fashioned, but I think election day should be a half-holiday, with parades and free beer for people who show their ballot stubs.

  100. I’m registered and I vote.

    As much as it pains me, I have to say some nice things about the California state government. Despite spending most of its time conducting a multi-decades going-out-of-business sale, the state government has (a) opened up absentee voting to everyone, whether or not you’re away from home on election day, (b) recently implemented an online registration system, and (c) in 2015, will allow people to register as late as election day. Good job, folks.

  101. I’m registered; although the presidential election here is a foregone conclusion, the senate race will likely be close.

    I didn’t fill out my town census a couple years ago, and had go through two extra steps at the polling booth, but nothing too onerous. I also remember doing an absentee ballot in college involving punching out chads, and laughing at the Official Punch Instrument (a bent paper clip).

  102. I am registered to vote, and I probably will. However, since there are no candidates on the ballot for the Federal offices I can vote for who I feel should be allowed to hold the office (in a qualification sense not a Birther sense) the argument to “making your voice heard” doesn’t really resonate for me. Does turning in a blank ballot count as a noble protest whereas not voting at all does not? (Plus that I am in a state so solidly Blue my voice will be drowned out by crickets anyway.) I guess that counts as “What the Hell is wrong with me” if I decide not to vote. Mostly I go to vote down stuff I don’t like on the local level.

    Incidentally, Illinois doesn’t rely solely on voter rolls for jury duty notices, but that argument doesn’t sway me either. I wouldn’t mind being on a jury but since I will never be allowed to and risk contempt of court charges every time I go through voir dire, I actively resent being summoned for jury service. It’s a complete waste of my time.

  103. Hell yeah I’m registered and of course I’m going to vote! This is the first presidential election in which I can vote in and I’m not going to pass this opportunity up anything! I take pride in being able to vote for our president; so why the hell wouldn’t I vote?

  104. In the last Federal election but one, the local baby-eater party candidate defeated the moral vacuum party’s candidate by a very narrow margin; (the naive idealist party ran a distant third, I think). A small number of voters could have left the seat in the hands of the moral vacuums, which given that the baby-eater MP in my riding is the one trying to force American-style abortion suppression on Canada, would have been a good thing (although given what a horrible job of campaign the Federal Liberals did in the next election, we’d still have a Conservative MP. Maybe not that one, though). Votes can count.

  105. Of course. Absentee ballot which i’ll probably drop off in my neighborhood polling place.

    The national elections are not nearly as interesting as the California propositions as usual.

  106. I am registered to vote. I don’t know IF I am going to yet. I don’t really think either candidate is the man for the job, so I don’t like to be shoehorned into voting for the lesser of dunces. I would say the lesser of evils, but generally evil overlords are at least effective at what they do.

    I don’t like it when people say “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain.” That is hogwash. If I’m casting my ballot by abstaining, it means that I made a concious decision that neither candidate was any good. I’m willing to bet that most people who are just voting party lines have no more civic virtue than sheep :D

  107. I’m registered to vote. My Grandfather considered voting one of the most important responsibilities we have as citizens, and he voted in every single election. He gave that sense of duty to my mother, and she passed it on to me. It does make me a little sad that my county is all vote by mail; going to the polls and filling out the ballot was an important connection to my Grandfather. It’s not the same when I’m mailing my ballot, but the importance is still there.

  108. For those who believe it’s okay to not vote because “individual votes don’t count” a few of parables:

    No single snowflake feels responsible for the avalanche. Yet avalanches happen. No individual train commuter queuing perpendicular to the tracks feels responsible for blocking the platform, yet every day the queue extends right across the platform, making it difficult or impossible for others to pass.

    An old woman went out into the woods to gather fuel for her fire. She was frail and weak, so she test-lifted each stick, before adding it to her basket, and muttered to herself as she added each twig, “Well, if I can manage that one, then I can manage this one too…” but when she went to lift her basket, she couldn’t budge it. So she turned to her basket and began to take sticks out, “Well, if that one was too much, then so is this one too much…” until her basket was empty, and she went home without any fuel for her fire.

    In poker, three 2’s beats two aces, and a 2-3-4-5-6 straight flush beats four aces, despite the fact that as individual cards, they’re the lowest in the deck.

    The power of aggregates lies in the act of aggregation. The fact that individual members of the aggregate do no have the same effect as the aggregate as a whole demonstrates that aggregation has more power than individual action, not that the individual members of the aggregate don’t matter. If most people decide their votes don’t count anyway, the people who vote anyway get to decide. The people who vote anyway tend to be white, better educated, older, and wealthier. If you’re okay with them getting to decide, don’t vote.

  109. I am not presently registered to vote in my current residence, but in Minnesota, you can register on the day of the election at the polling place.

    Since I’ve had to do this even when I’ve (theoretically) been registered, I just do it that way now and don’t bother to do it in advance when I move.

  110. Registered a long time ago, jumping through the hoops currently of getting everything updated since I moved in august. First time since I started that I’ll be at a new polling place. That’ll be weird.

  111. If you abstain from voting because you fine none of the candidates for president (and there are more than two) worthy, you are 1) missing all the down-ballot races, which are vital to the smooth functioning of our government, and prone to be occupied by party-line whackadodles if people don’t pay attention (school boards are especially prone to this), and 2) FUNCTIONALLY INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM PEOPLE WHO JUST CAN’T BE ARSED TO VOTE.

    Submit a defaced ballot, if you object so much. Write in “Lizard People.” Make sure your disgust is not confused for apathy.

  112. I am most definitely registered.

    It was less than 100 years ago that for the “unpatriotic” act of picketing the White House for the right to vote, Alice Paul and other National Women’s Party suffragists were arrested, imprisoned, and placed in solitary confinement. Then, when they went on a hunger strike to protest this treatment, they were force-fed. How could I ever choose NOT to vote when others have fought so hard for the right?

  113. I registered to vote on my 18th birthday. I missed one school board election (it was held in May that year), and that’s it. Haven’t missed an election since. I moved late July to a new town. Registered to vote and got an updated drivers license before the August primaries, since CT requires a photo ID to vote. My license wasn’t up for renewal yet, but I wanted to make sure I could vote in August and November.

  114. I’ve been registered since my senior year of high school, when my history teacher offered registration forms to all the kids who’d be old enough to vote on the next school budget.

    I’ve only missed one election since.

  115. Yes I am ready and even plan to vote early here in Georgia. My blue vote may be lost amidst the red here but it is still my vote and it does count. And the last go around we came very close to tipping to blue.

  116. Registered to vote and just signed up for mail in voting in CA. Very excited about that even though I will miss getting my “I Voted” sticker. CA usually has a ton of ballot measures that require some forethought.

  117. Registered at 18 (a very long time ago); missed one primary because I didn’t know enough about the candidates or ballot questions, and got royally chewed out by my father; haven’t missed an election since. My father wanted to pass on the last primary, and I chewed *him* out!

    I *love* the Internet for research. Starting a couple of days before the election (by which time local news sources have weighed in on everything), I go through the ballot item by item and don’t stop researching until I’m comfortable with my choice. It’s great!

  118. Yes, of course I am registered to vote. I nag people all the time about voting. I work in the legal field and perhaps that makes people a little less negligent, but generally speaking my workplaces have had very good representation at the polls … of course, the employers help by actually sticking to that “time off to vote” law.

    I will admit to skipping a couple of city elections wherein the only things on the ballot were school-board measures. (full disclosure; I don’t have kids at all, much less kids in the schools)

  119. Yes I’m registered to vote and will definitely do so. If I’m in City Hall will vote early there, keeps the waiting in line to a minimum.

  120. Registered, voted in every election I was eligible to vote in, and am voting early this year so that I can help other people to vote on Election Day.

  121. Have been registered and voted in every general and almost all primary elections since1972. And I have never been called for jury duty in any jurisdiction. It’s all rather depressing, really. . .

  122. My Dad registered me to vote the morning of my 18th birthday. Mom made breakfast for us while I filled out the paperwork. It is a memory I cherish. My parents were very active in politics, working on behalf of teachers in the great state of Nevada. Mom walked precincts and ran campaigns for the Nevada State Education Association. From a young age my brothers and I were pressed into service stuffing envelopes. I would go on to walk precincts with Mom, work phone banks, run volunteers who made and placed yard signs. So it was kind of a badge of honor to register to vote. My parents made it that important. I have voted in every major election and most of the minor ones since that date. I am proud of that. And even though I live in a state that has mail in voting, I still prefer to walk my ballot over to the local elementary school where I can slip it into the box, shake the hand of the poll worker and get my “I voted” sticker. Yeah, I’m a sap.

  123. Registered to vote when I turned 18 and have missed very few elections since then. My particular vote may not have much impact on the results, but the act of voting has an impact on me.

    When my mother was born, women weren’t allowed to vote. When I was born, people who looked like most of my current neighbors weren’t allowed to vote. Like others upthread have noted; too many people struggled for too long for me to ignore the opportunity I have.

  124. I just double-checked with my county Recorder’s website, and yes, I am (still) registered. I know here my polling place is (a short walk from my house) and I have every intention of going to the polls.

  125. A couple of thoughts in support of voting:

    First, several races in my state of Washington have come down to a few hundred votes out of three million, including races for governor. If a handful of people who thought that ‘one vote won’t make a difference’ had voted either way the result would have been different.

    Second, if you don’t vote, you can’t bitch. Sorry, but if someone won’t take the time to vote I won’t take the time to listen to them. “Did you vote?” is one of the questions I ask during political discussions and if the answer is No, I just stop paying attention to that person. They can’t be serious about civic issues if they won’t even vote.

  126. I’m a U.S. citizen by birth, but am not registered because I’m a permanent legal resident of Canada, came up here in 1971 during the Nixon-VietNam insanity. Under those circumstances, I must apply for an “absentee ballot” (or whatever) through the U.S. Consulate rather than through the local board back in my last US residence (in Virginia). I tried back in ’72, but found I had to apply for an application for an application for an application, ad infinitum ad nauseum, and finally just gave up about six steps into the process and never tried again.

    And it doesn’t help any that the consulate (the one in Toronto, anyway, which is closest) isn’t exactly user-friendly … trying to get assistance, I once made 8 successive toll calls to them, getting a different recorded message each time. When I finally stuck it out long enough to get a number at which I could speak to a live representative, I found that would have been one MORE toll call, so I gave up.

    Under the post-9/11 requirements for documentation, I cannot currently cross the border since I’ve never had a passport. If I do ever have to, I’ll probably bite the bullet and get Canadian citizenship — that (and a Canadian passport) is a much simpler and cheaper process than trying to get a US passport (I can do both right here in town).

  127. Not only am I registered to vote in my state, I’ve also recently updated my signature on file for our mail-only balloting system. :)

  128. Have I registered to vote yet? No. What the hell is wrong with me? I live in the only state that does not have voter registration.

    That being said, I vote in every election, despite the fact that my politics are in the minority here and my votes rarely impact elections for major offices. It’s my civic duty, it’s a good incentive to keep informed on public affairs, and elections for local positions and ballot initiatives are often quite competitive.

  129. I registered to vote in 1974 and I’ve been voting ever since, even in that election when I had to wait over an hour because of a problem with the machines.

  130. I’m registered, and looking forward to voting in person for the first time! I’m from CA but go to college in MN, so I’ve voted absentee in CA elections for the past three years; this year I finally switched my registration to MN, since I’ve decided to stick around after graduation. I need to figure out what kind of identifying documents to bring to the polls, though… my passport still has my CA address on it, but I think I can bring that and a utility bill from my current apartment and be good to go? Can any more experienced MN voters tell me if that would be good enough? I’m having trouble finding the information on the Secretary of State’s website.

  131. Never not been registered. And I’ve only missed one major election. ’96, I think. For reasons.

    Also: avoiding jury duty is a dumbass reason not to vote, in my opinion. I would love to serve on a jury but I can’t. Every time I’ve been called, I get cut in selection when the defense attorney finds out my brother’s a cop. XD

  132. Miles, as a former CA resident currently living in NY, the election i’m most interested in this year is in WA, where there are two ballot propositions I care passionately about. :)

  133. The only candidate I “knew” I wanted to vote for, dropped his re-election bid for the US House, making me SO-not-happy. Quote from his interview at that time, about (I think) the Federal budget: “People aren’t interested in a Democratic plan or a Republican plan – they want an American plan.” Same news article quoted one of his colleagues from across the aisle who said she will miss him, as he was someone who could actually collaborate to get things done. If it didn’t mean wasting my vote altogether, I’d write in his name for every position on the ballot, but it does so I won’t.

  134. Gosh. @Flanders: I didn’t think the reasoning behind my previous position for voter abstention wouldn’t be judged so harshly. However, what if we considered that an “abstain strategy” dominates a “vote strategy”:

    “In any large election the chance of any one vote determining the outcome is low. Some studies show that a single vote in a voting scheme such as the Electoral College in the United States has an even lower chance of determining the outcome. Other studies claim that the Electoral College actually increases voting power. Studies using game theory, which takes into account the ability of voters to interact, have also found that the expected turnout for any large election should be zero.”


  135. Beartriangle – and yet in two important legislative primaries in NY state this month, the outcome was determined by less than 200 votes.

  136. Thank you for reminding me to look up the hours of the local consulate, because I’d rather talk to a human being than rely on a website for info. I’m registered to vote in New Mexico, but I am currently “visiting” my husband in Canada while waiting for permanent residency. Eventually I will have to figure out how I feel about living under the sort of taxation without representation that DC has, but for now I just need to know how to make sure my vote is counted.

  137. Registered in the ’70’s and haven’t missed an election even local ones. I had a high school Political Science teacher that made sure all seniors had a registration form. I graduated at 17 but had it completed and ready to turn months later.
    Don’t always vote the party ticket but that’s the great thing about voting; if there is nothing you want to vote for there are surely issues you want to vote against!
    Proud to be a *citizen*.

  138. Registered and ready to vote. And yes, I agree – if you are a US Citizen and not voting, why the hell not? Our ancestors died for those rights that you’re throwing away. And there are people all over the world who DON’T have those rights.

  139. I just recently moved and need to re-register. I have been to FOUR different local libraries and TWO different post offices and ALL of them were out of forms. I think that there is a conspiracy going on. I’m glad that you can download the forms and mail them in now, because if you couldn’t I would seriously give up!

  140. I’m a naturalized citizen and I have to say one of the most exciting things I got to do when I turned 18 was to register to vote. Also proud to say I haven’t missed a single presidential election, nor most of the in between ones, since 1988.

  141. Yes I’m registered and yes I will vote. The vote may matter in some of the local races, but I live in a state that isn’t in play nationally. So I am considering voting for the third party candidate who more accurately reflects my views. Yes perhaps one could argue that by doing this I’m helping to create the perception that my state isn’t in play, but on the other hand, boosting the third party’s numbers could help make its positions more popular with the major parties in the next race. It’s a calculus that I ponder every election year. I’d like to have preference voting, like the Hugos.

    It isn’t uncommon for me to leave some races blank because I don’t have an opinion about who should be water commissioner, or recorder of deeds, and I don’t know what (if any) key issues differentiate the candidates. Likewise I’m not particularly fond of ad campaigns exhorting people to “just vote”, as if adding a great deal of noise to the system is particularly helpful.

    I suppose this means I’m lazy about my election research. OK, then, can anyone summarize the stakes in the water commission race in their own particular jurisdiction?

  142. Beartriangle: I don’t think the game theory arguments are the end of the discussion when it comes to moral matters. They assume we all act from pure self-interest and that it’s morally neutral to take advantage of collective action problems. I tend to disagree and think that sometimes people have a responsibility to do things even if they’re not in their best interest or the most efficient use of their time.

  143. As a friend of mine noted (you’ll get to meet him at Capclave), voting is about establishing your right to argue. If you can’t even bother to vote you really have no opinion that one is obligated to take seriously.

  144. I’ve been registered since the early 1960s, missed a few odd elections. I’ll check that it’s current (we just redistricted, but I think the only thing that changed for us was the number of the precinct, even has the same boundaries and voting place.) I’ve been both a poll worker and an election judge, and urge others to do so, there’s rarely a surplus of workers.

    Franken v Coleman (2008) for one of Minnesota’s federal Senate seats was eventually decided by 312 votes.

    Minnesota does have a reasonably good same-day registration system. If there’s a high turnout, you can be in line for an additional hour or two to do so. If we had more poll workers and election judges … do it early, save yourself the trouble.

  145. Registered, and I vote, despite not being happy with our political process as it currently runs and having trouble finding people to vote for. I happen to think local elections are really important, however, so that keeps me voting even when discouraged with the national scene.

  146. @Aphrael — I’m fine with the “will of the people”. When a group of friends get together and “vote” on what they want to do, I generally go along with the majority and have a good time. I’ve extended this same philosophy to formal elections. I don’t think it’s apathetic. I enjoy the company of my friends, don’t mooch off them and enjoy what we do together … same goes with the country. I’m generally ok with way things work and the way the majority wants to handle things and change things. It’s a great country filled with creative and brilliant people: I’ve recently met so many people so much smarter than I am. I’m infinitely optimistic about the future.

  147. The first thing I did after moving to Florida from Ohio this spring was register to vote. I am Blue in a Red state, you bet I’ll vote.

    I moved to take care of my Mom, and now that she is in a nursing home & I have moved to a different Florida county, (OT: I landed a great job & so shall stay in Florida) I made sure to get my voter registration transferred to the new county. Mom’s absentee ballot will come to her new address at the nursing home, as I made sure to get the necessary docs for *her* voter registration address change.

  148. I used to think that my lone little vote didn’t matter. But I live in Florida, the land of the hanging chads, and after that mess, I realized elections *could* come down to my vote. It ain’t likely, but I ain’t taking the chance. Damn right I vote.

  149. Registered to vote in Texas, and I almost always vote on the losing side of any issue lately. That doesn’t stop me.

    I also judge people who don’t vote, and I even more harshly judge people who won’t serve on a jury. Who the fuck do you think has the ultimate say in which laws get enforced?

  150. @eselle28 – I was hoping that you would read beyond the game theory paragraph of the Wikipedia article. Specifically, there have been times in history when voter turn out statistics are inversely correlated to the essential well being of the populace: This suggests that voter participation may be important, but not necessarily a more highly ranked objective for the foundation of a good civilization than other attributes.

  151. I’m registered to vote here in Indiana, and plan to vote early at that — a habit I got into when I traveled for work and was usually out of state on Election Day, but remains convenient so long as it isn’t a mandatory national holiday. Which, incidentally, Election Day should be.

  152. Yes, I am registered to vote and did so in our recent primary elections. I try to engage in discussion with my pre-teen sons about “social studies” and bring them along when my wife and I vote so they see that it is -something you do-.

  153. Registered independent (which is officially, and bafflingly, called “Unenrolled” in Massachusetts) at 18 (1975), missed only 1 election since then when I moved to California about 30 days before a local election. I just wasn’t there long enough at that point to have any clue what the issues were.

  154. Registered, and I have updated my voters reg and my drivers license both to match my current address. Anyone who’s moved lately should do exactly as I have or expect trouble. Truth be told, I’m STILL kind of expecting trouble.

  155. Who the fuck do you think has the ultimate say in which laws get enforced?

    Judges. Which is why it’s a waste of my time to go to juror calls.

    “Mr. Whipple, will you vote based upon your understanding of the facts of the case and the law as I explain it to you regardless of your opinion regarding the justness or sense of the law?”

    “Of course not.”

    “Bailiff, escort Mr. Whipple out of the courthouse and off county property. If he says what I think he’s about to say to anybody in this building, place him under arrest. Mr. Whipple, you are excused. Get out.”

    (Note: that’s a slight exaggeration. But only a slight one. And yes, I’d soon be out. But I don’t want to go in in the first place. So it’s perjure myself, or sit in a cell.)

  156. Yep, I’m registered.

    I moved not too long ago and took care of tags, taxes and voter registration in one sell fwoop working my way down the hall in the county courthouse. I also gave the county clerk’s office a giggle. They’d informed me that I would be too late to vote in the primaries. I told them, since I’m declaring for neither Big Party, I wasn’t allowed to… unless they’d be willing to give me one of each ballot. At which point the whole office broke into giggles. Uh, no, they told me. So how about a combined ballot, listing the Two Big Parties side by side, I asked? More giggles, lasting longer this time. They’d love to, it would be both easier and cheaper for them, but, again, no. So sorry.

    With such a receptive audience I ventured my pet desire about the election process. Nobody starts running until January, all primaries are held on the same day in May, and elections happen unchanged in November. That earned wistful sighs. It would be wonderful, but, no.

  157. beartriangle: I just don’t see what that has to do with the discussion of an individual’s responsibility to vote. I certainly agree that a 100% voting rate may indicate an opressive government, and that a low one may indicate that people are relatively content with the current system.

    My objection is more to the rationale that if someone is relatively content with the state of things, it’s acceptable not to take part in the civic functions that allow for things to be so pleasant. Relying on “the crowd” only works if a reasonable number of people are willing to participate. The system certainly allows for free riders, but I do find it objectionable when people choose to do so and expect the rest of us to do the work of keeping up on candidates and issues for them.

  158. I am indeed registered to vote and have not missed an election since 1972 when I became eligible. And I will drag the spouse to the polls as well. I’m planning on early voting here in Ohio next Tuesday. (In 2008 we had a lovely parade to the Miami County Ohio Courthouse.)

  159. My wife and I are registered. We discuss the ballot prior to voting. When we disagree we drive each other crazy knowing we cancel each others vote.

  160. Marc Whipple: Has this actually happened to you? If so, I’m sorry to hear that’s how it’s handled where you live. I’m a constant jury duty target, and an attorney, so I’ve seen several prospective jurors state that they’re in favor of jury nullification.

    In all of the cases, the judge rolled his or her eyes and in some there was a lecture, but all of the people were allowed to state their objection and none were threatened with contempt of court. Depending on the jury pool system, they were either then struck as jurors and told they could go home or sent back to the waiting room to finish out the day.

  161. Registered already, but just to make you happy I’ll make the older kids fill out their forms when I pick them up from college in half an hour.

  162. I am registered to vote, and I vote in every general election. I don’t vote in primaries because I belong to a third party that doesn’t have primaries in my state. My party affiliation would probably cause a prosecutor to strike me from the jury in a drug case.

  163. I’ve been registered to vote ever since I could legally do so, and I’ve voted in every election. Vote-by-mail is my medium of choice. Aside from the convenience, it gives me time on Election Day to volunteer for a campaign and rhetorically kick other people in the butt to get them out to vote.

  164. eselle28: Have I been threatened with contempt? No. But others have in Illinois. (And occasionally stuck in a cell until the judge came to his senses or was overruled by a senior judge.) I haven’t mostly because I’m not dumb enough to be quite that direct in actual interaction with a judge. (I’m also an attorney.) Nor, despite the appalling ignorance (purposefully inculcated) of the population regarding the right of jury nullification and my (I hope obvious) opinion on the matter, do I sit in the juror waiting room or the lobby of the courthouse handing out pamphlets and lecturing on same.

    Have I been dismissed from voire dire for answering the question above with, “No, your Honor,” despite the blatant unfairness and unconstitutionality of it? Hells yes. Every. Single. Time. I answer honestly, the judge gives me a dirty look, and I am excused. They’ve never even made one or the other counsel use a peremptory or a for-cause. The judge does it of their own volition.

  165. I am registered as a republican but I’ve voted Democrat for president and congress persons lately. I’ve also not voted in several elections due to laziness, ignorance, and various other non-protest reasons and I like that I live in a country where if I don’t vote, for whatever reason, the country will still go on functioning in a reasonably stable fashion without me. And whether I vote or not I still get to complain because that’s my right as well.

  166. For me it takes effort to vote. I still do it but living in one of the reddest districts in Texas it is hard and futile. Mind you I still vote because my franchise may not effect much but it IS mine! This year is the first year I felt I made a difference (in 20+ years of voting). Our county DA was a dishonest SOB and kept a an innocent man in prison for multiple years due to not wanting to looking “weak” on crime. I registered to the opposite party and with head held high I voted for the opponent. She won the primary and I have not been happier (OK that is hyperbole, my wedding, and honeymoon, was more fun!).

  167. I re-upped my voter registration when I renewed my driver’s license. Damn skippy I’m going to vote, even if it has a negligible effect. My only quibble with jury duty is that often the stipend is less than minimum wage, which is a hardship on someone holding down said minimum wage job. You do get mandated time off for jury duty, and the judge may be willing to listen to your tale of woe, but YMMV. “Service guarantees citizenship! Would you like to know more?”

  168. I was on a jury for a murder trial that ran for months. My employer at the time covered about half the time I was on jury duty. I burned up my vacation time and worked odd hours to keep a paycheck coming in. The courts paid us so little, it wouldn’t cover the cost of parking. Needless to say, it was a pain in the ass.

    I think my current employer only covers a week of jury duty. So that would have really sucked.

    I see jury duty with an emphasis on duty. It needs to be done, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to like it.

    On the other hand, I think chastizing someone for wanting to avoid jury duty kind of lands for me like someone chastizing a person with food stamps buying steaks when hamburgers are cheaper. It’s really easy to manage other people’s time and money.

    If I had been put on a multi-month long jury duty with my current employer, who only pays for one week, I could do it, but only by burning through my savings to pay bills and maybe borrowing money to cover what I can’t pay. Not everyone can do that.

    And what I understand of the “hardship” exclusion for jury duty, they don’t consider being poor to be a hardship. results vary from state to state and judge to judge. But still.

  169. Registered. Have voted in nearly every election since I turned 18, and the first presidential one in ’00 (barely too young for ’96) was by absentee ballot while I was at university.

    It’s hard to get enough info to make good decisions about local candidates for things like school board and city council – for the most part you get the boilerplate blurb in the paper to go on. State and national not so much. Lots of times local elections are decided by primaries because the area’s so Republican.

  170. I’m registered but am a bad voter; I tend to miss local races. However, I’ll definitely be voting this fall, probably voting early since Texas makes it dead easy — show up at a polling place, give them your registration card, and the correct ballot for your precinct pops up on the voting machine. I can do it while I’m at the mall tut-tutting at what the damn kids today are wearing.

  171. Registered in North Carolina. I try to vote in every election, although I admit I missed voting in the runoff election for a couple of local primaries this year.

    This post also reminded me to look up the times and locations for one-stop absentee voting in my county. (NCers can register and vote in one trip to a one-stop location. I’m already registered, but it is convenient to be able to vote early.)

    Regarding whether you should vote: Even if you do not wish to vote for any of the candidates in any of the races for federal or state office, I bet there are a couple of local races or ballot initiatives where you can find someone or something worth voting for (or against). Get a sample ballot (often available online; google for the board of elections in your county/state) and check out what’s on there; do some internet research on the offices and candidates you don’t already know about.


    OK, then, can anyone summarize the stakes in the water commission race in their own particular jurisdiction?

    We don’t have a water commissioner race, but we do have a soil and water conservation district supervisor. The soil and water conservation district board handles issues relating to soil and water quality in the county — for example, making and enforcing rules about pollution and erosion that apply to new development or agriculture in the county. Quite aside from the obvious implications for general economic development and quality of life in the county, that issue directly affects my neighborhood, since we have a creek running behind several of the houses that has caused enough erosion to start making the homeowners worry. The experience, knowledge, and priorities of the candidates therefore do make an actual difference to me.

    I recommend looking up what the water commissioner does, and going from there.

  172. Registered, and will be voting in a general election for the first time (since becoming an American citizen a few years ago).

    Ridiculously excited, even though my voice will be one of those ‘lost in a chorus’ per above. :-)

  173. Registered continuously for the last 40 years, through 3 different states, have always voted in every election. Though last presidential election I wrote in “None of the Above.” Just couldn’t vote for either one.

  174. @eselle28 – Free Rider? Ouch. Our work and endeavors may be distinctive and unique, however, our goals can be transcended where a meaningful balance of human development occurs that allows us to fully express our nature in the variety of creative work that we do. Not all the bees gather honey, some us laboriously plod along while others focus their efforts on political activities. Let’s not group some of the bees into a lower caste than the political sphere. To suggest that the honey gatherers are in a lower, “free riding” caste seems inappropriate.

  175. @beartriangle: I’m not saying you are in all aspects of life, but in this one? Yes, you are a free rider. We started the topic with a discussion of game theory, and that’s the term used for people who enjoy the benefits of a system (in this case, democracy) without shouldering the costs.

    I’d be substantially more sympathetic to your argument if we were talking about a pursuit that was so time-consuming that it could meaningfully impact someone’s work, family life or creative activities. No one has infinite time or resources, and I certainly can’t volunteer for every cause I support. But this elections are infrequent, and the effort needed to keep more or less aware of public affairs is not so terribly burdensome. I’m sympathetic to non-voters whose lives are very chaotic or who don’t have reliable transporation, but for people whose argument is, “My energy is better directed elsewhere,” I’m going to judge a bit.

  176. I’m registered to vote, vote every year, even if I send in Protest Votes of no confidence, and will be “working” as a door clerk for this year’s election as well.

    Even though most of my ballot is empty, because I won’t vote “lesser evil”, I insist on taking the time to vote for what I can support, and quietly wish that “None of these idiots” was a federally required choice on all states’ ballots…

  177. For me, registering to vote was like getting my driver’s license: do it on your birthday when you become eligible or the first business day thereafter. I was too young to vote for Carter’s re-election, but was at least able to vote against Reagan’s second term.

  178. Not registered; nonvoter by religious principle (political neutrality).

    However: should I ever successfully be called for jury duty, I have no intention of trying to get out of it (barring actual serious issues at the time; I mean, I have no objection to the duty and am interested in doing it). As it happens, the only jury summons I ever got were when I was a college student 400 miles away from where I was being summoned, so I never served.

    N.b., I don’t complain about politics either, beyond general incredulity and dismay at some of the ridiculous things that happen. I very rarely comment on the political threads here, but I read them all carefully.

  179. Registered, and have been voting since 1980. For those of you above who noted that you are voting for the first time (especially the new citizens!) Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah! Welcome to the duty that is a delight!

    John Scalzi, I suspect that we are poles apart on most issues politic, but I wholeheartedly endorse your position on voting. As a certain retired naval person once observed, there might not always be someone or something you want to vote FOR, but there will always be someone or something you want to vote AGAINST.

  180. @eselle28 – Ok. I’ll vote in the upcoming presidential election. I appreciate your argument. Thanks.

  181. I’m registered to vote, I plan on voting on this election, and I’ve made up my mind about who to vote for President, Senator, Congressman, and which propositions I approve (I live in CA).

    I can understand the feeling by some voters about having a party candidate you don’t want to support. My dad is a registered Democrat, but voted for the Green Party candidate in several elections because he didn’t like Bill Clinton or John Kerry. That was his way of saying to the Democratic Party that he wanted a better candidate, and he eventually got one when Barack Obama ran in ’08. If there are Republicans who don’t like Mitt Romney and don’t want to vote for Obama, there’s always Gary Johnson for the Libertarian Party. Just sayin’.

  182. I am registered in an Ohio district created by a major gerrymander, and have been for the entire time I’ve lived here (just about 19 years). My voice is often lost, but not always.

  183. Registered in MN.

    (Hey fellow MNans, did you know that if a voter casts a ballot but leaves the gay marriage amendment or the voter ID amendment sections blank it actually counts as a no vote? MN wants to make it difficult (rightfully so in my opinion) to amend their constitution, so they only count the yes votes and everything else is not-yes. I’m a no voter on both, so that was a pleasant bit of news.)

  184. Was going to mention just how narrow the margin was in the 2004 Washington State gubernatorial election, but I see someone already beat me to it. Damn right I’m voting, not least to see the gay marriage legislation passed earlier this year in my state upheld.

  185. I registered to vote in 1976 while I was stationed at Ft. Hood, TX and voted in my very first presidential election via absentee ballot (like you, John, I am an Ohio native).

    I have voted in every election, local and national, primary and general since then, for 36 years. In that time, I moved from the blue area of Columbus to the red state of North Carolina (Jesse Helm was in his heyday down here) and continued to vote even though I knew that I would be outnumbered, although demographics are shifting dramatically here in Piedmont, North Carolina.

    It’s my civic duty and I take that seriously.

  186. Oregon resident, looking forward to my vote-by-mail envelope showing up soon.

    Been registered to vote since my 18th birthday (1987), currently registered as an independent, since the parties in general seem more concerned with ruling than governing. Have 3 kids of voting age and made sure they’re all registered, too. Worked polling sites before we went vote-by-mail.

    One pet peeve: People who say “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.” That’s not how it works. If a guy doesn’t vote, he still has the right to be a loud-mouthed idiot, just as we still have the right to mock him for not voting and then whining about the outcome. Thank you, First Amendment.

  187. I am not register to vote because I live in North Dakota – the only state without voter registration! I’ve still voted in every election since I turned 18, though. Even the itty-bitty ones.

  188. Just changed my voter registration from absentee-California (military family recently returned from overseas) to now-resident in Missouri because Missouri is a swing state. I harbor these illusions that my vote means more here.

  189. As someone who has voted in every election, primary and general both, since I was eligible to vote, I have to say: I do not understand this sort of obsessive fascination with bullying people to vote.

    If someone had not researched the issues, or has no preference as to candidates, why on earth do you want them to pull that lever? (Or hit the touchscreen or whatever.) You can’t just say, “DEMOCRACY!” and wave the flag around.

    An uninformed voter is worse than a non-voter.

    If you want to argue that our electorate should all be well-educated and well-informed, well, I totally agree with you. As do the Founding Fathers. But I don’t think bullying people into voting when they have no background or desire to do so is the right idea.

  190. I grew up in a very liberal town in California. It was the kind of place that was incredibly intolerant of any views that were not “Progressive” enough, and my own middle of the road leanings were considered deeply conservative. When I turned 18 I registered right away as a Republican as a means of asserting my independence against the overwhelming tide of Democrats, and other fringe parties. This was in ’91. When I moved to Oregon in ’01 I was so disgusted by what the Republicans had become that I registered as Independent. There was no way I wanted to be associated with, or support, either party.

  191. D. Paul Angel, I’m headed there myself. I am registered with a party because it lets me vote in the primary, which is how I keep hoping to change the direction in which it goes. But sometimes it feels like I’m banging my head against a brick wall.

  192. Registered; in fact my absentee ballot (I’ll be in another state on Election Day) showed up in the mail today.

  193. I’m registered to vote in two states. The one I live in, and the one I came from. It’s been over thirty years and they haven’t removed me from the polls. Yes, I tried. No thank you, I’m done. I don’t vote there and hopefully no one there is voting for me, but I guess you never know.

    Happily, where I do vote, we still vote with a punch card. If the day comes they change it to machines, I’ll be mailing my vote in early.

  194. I’m registered to vote, but just in case I’m going to walk down to my Town Hall and double check. I did that the second day I moved to MA. We just got the information on the ballot questions in the mail a couple of days ago, and it was interesting to see just what the questions were! I didn’t know we were going to have any questions!

    I do wish it had listed every person running for each potential race. I know who my House Rep is, but not if there is anyone running against him.

    I was also brought to the polls by my parents as a child, and that has really stuck with me.

  195. Been registered to vote since 1971, thanks. And voted every time, even when I was in Germany – the one election I was too emotionally messed up to vote I was 14, which is probably why.)

  196. Registered and I vote, even though I have to drive 15 miles to the poll. In our sparsely populated county, it has come down to one or two votes on occasion.

  197. I registered to vote when I was seventeen years old in my government class in high school, so I was able to vote the moment I turned eighteen. I have never missed a presidential race. I’m sure as hell not missing this one.

  198. I just checked. I’m still registered. *whew*

    I’ve voted in every major election since I was 18. I take my vote very seriously as I’m female and I’ve learned quite a bit about our history. The “sufferin’ til sufferage” that our ancestors did makes me believe that whether my vote is the decider or not, it’s still important. I’d be disgracing my heritage and the women that came before me if I didn’t vote. Votes ARE important.

  199. Thanks for the reminder John. I double-checked my registration and my husband’s and we are good to go. We’re in Florida, where it seems every year there are more and more ridiculous state constitutional amendments on the ballot. We have 11 this year and I’m voting straight NO.

  200. Registered and haven’t missed an election since I was 18. Literally went out in a blizzard once, so now I have permanent absentee.

    Local races have an impact on your life just as much as national. Is your library going to close? Which City Council members would vote the way you want on that massive development site on the edge of town where they tore down the old factory? Who’s going to be running the school board? Who do you want looking after your water and sewers? These are non-partisan issues.

    Not registering won’t keep you out of jury duty! They got onto that idea years ago and the juror rolls are now taken from the driver’s license registrations. I know this b/c there’s a slight difference in the way my middle name is on my voter and DMV records, and the last time I got a jury duty summons, it was to my DMV name. (And frankly, if you’re not either willing to do your civic duty, or can’t figure a way to get out of it, are you really someone who should be voting anyway?)

    I do miss when I was a kid, going with my mom, and they had the big machines with the levers you flipped and the big lever that went CA-CHUNK and opened the curtains. Much more impressive.

  201. I am registered, and I vote in every general and school budget election.

    It takes some doing to get my husband out to vote some years, though. He is of the “my vote won’t matter” persuasion. I like what you said here – I will use that the next time I have a hard time convincing him to go. (I don’t think that will be the case this year.)

  202. I have been a voter for 41 years and have not missed more than 10 local elections in that time and never a national election. Most of the elections I missed were due to traveling for work. Since WA has gone to mail in ballots I haven’t missed any. I have always thought of it as both a privilege and a responsibly.

  203. Am registered. Voted in every election since I was 21 (before the voting age was sensibly dropped to 18; you know, “18, old enough to get sent to Nam but not old enough to vote” thing). Registered for absentee ballot years ago, before the whole “vote by mail” was common, because it meant that on days I needed to work overtime I could still get my ballot in without needing to drive back to work afterwards. Dropped off my last ballot in a secured drop-box by the local fire station, because I’m old enough that it feels more like I voted if I actually go out. In ’08, went to polling place with ballot just to get the “I voted” sticker.

    (Lurkertype: oh yeah, those rows big machines behind the blue curtains, and that CA-CHUNK sound, and a line of others waiting to vote…)

    (Also, re: civic duty: voter registration is indeed not tied to eligibility for jury duty. Had to get an exemption last time I was called, due to damned disability issues; have only served on a jury once, and wish I could again, but it won’t happen. Dammit.)

  204. I’ve been registered to vote for over 40 years, and I vote; I figure it’s the least I can do if I’m gonna bitch about the outcome (and I do bitch…).

  205. Registered to vote in the place we’ve been living for the last few years, polling place is five doors up the road. Half the people there know us from the local fish fry fundraisers by now. And yes, as I’m in PA they asked us nicely for ID and I tried to nicely explain why I wouldn’t as a protest during the primaries. I think I was nice at least.

  206. Thanks for the handy links! I used to be registered to vote by mail, but I didn’t get a ballot last time and I’m not sure why. I reregistered and it appears to have stuck this time.

    I’m still debating whether to vote for a third party or not. It’s a forgone conclusion who will win my state (and I’m not unhappy about that, although not overjoyed), so it won’t change the election results if I decide to get creative. Is the Scalzi party running a candidate?

  207. Next April or so I’ll have been registered to vote in California for 30 years (aiiieee!) and the only time you have to re-register is if you change address.

    I also looked up the voter-id requirements for California, I think it’s a federal law because it’s only federal elections. If you registered by mail, you have to provide id the first time you vote in a federal election. There’s the usual list of id things, like utility bill, government check, and others. Mostly to show where you live, since that’s the technically important part.

    The other reason to vote when you’re in the wrong color state (or whatever) are the local, county, regional, state, school board, judges, sherriff etc races, those are *always* important. That’s how (non-rich, non-connected) people become politicians, by running for something small. And if you think your state rep and senator or local equivelent has no power to change your life guess again. And in those races? Your vote counts!

    Actually, your vote can always count, you just don’t know if it might till afterwards. Look at Florida in 2000.

    PS I clicked on the Register! link on the Secretary of State of California page and you can register on-line or print out a form. And I can’t identify all the languages you can do it in but the links are at the bottom.

  208. On a slight tangent (and I apologise to OGH in advance if this is deemed to be irrelevant) but one thing I definitely feel the Australian system has going for it is that we vote preferentially. That is, we’re given a list of candidates, and we rank them in order of preference from 1 to n (where “n” is the number of candidates on the ballot). My trick is that I tend to work backwards – decide who I’d least like as my representative, who’s second worst, third worst, etc until I reach the least worst candidate, who winds up getting my first preference. (They’re usually a minor party, because for me the two major parties have generally been last and second last for almost as long as I’ve been voting).

    I wonder whether this mightn’t improve things slightly in the USA for some of the people who are saying that their vote “won’t count” or “there aren’t any decent candidates I can wholeheartedly support” or similar.

    (Yeah, it makes counting interesting, particularly since we don’t have a “first past the post” system of deciding the winners either – the winning candidate has to get 50% of the available votes for the seat plus one vote extra in order to be elected. So, for example, if there are 50,000 voters in the seat of Godzone, in order to be elected, the candidate needs to get 25,001 votes. Which is why, for us, the legal requirement to turn out and vote is important).

    Incidentally, even here in Australia, with our population of only about 20 million (compared to the USA’s 300 million) the meme has got around that our votes don’t count for squat. One might almost suspect there were people at work attempting to undermine the whole notion of representative democracy as a valid system of government.

  209. I registered to vote when I was 20 and haven’t missed a federal election since. I even voted for a dead man once (don’t ask), and I have no patience with anyone who doesn’t vote and then whines about politics.

    You have the power, people. Go register and VOTE.

  210. Don’t worry, my Dad and my life partner would kick my ass if I didn’t cast my ballot. One risked his life for the right to vote and the others family had to earn the right the vote.

    Of course I’d kick my own ass too if I didn’t vote, and yes, I’m that flexible.

    I’ve often wondered if our country wouldn’t benefit from compulsory voting a la Australia.

  211. Registered to vote, and have voted in every national election except my first (when they sent me my absentee ballot AFTER the election. WTG, USPS.)

    I find it especially important to read and attempt to parse the phrasing of each proposition (or initiative, depending on where you live.) If you can’t understand it, vote against it. If you realize that the unintended consequences will be bad, vote against it. (I’m STILL incensed that Californians voted in that high-speed rail boondoggle when it was obvious, even then, that the state was seriously broke and on the verge of getting even worse.)(Oh, and it’s STILL GOING THROUGH, even as the state budget is billions—with a B—in debt, and it will be decades before any real good is seen from it, because they don’t want to lose the matching federal funds. Hey, Legislature, learn the definition of “sunk cost” and “the money’s not there.”)

  212. I have to say that I don’t get that “I’m too weary of the process to vote” thing, John. I’m weary as hell of campaign season, as I suspect most people are. I’d be just as happy if we could all march off to the polls tomorrow – and I’m not even in a swing state. But the idea of voting was presented to me very young as a responsibility and a privilege, and apparently that stuck – when I cast my ballot in our local run off, the nice election lady told me that I was the 35th person that they had had that day (it was 2 p.m.). There was only one race on the ballot, but I felt that it was my duty to vote if it was humanly possible for me to do so.

    I’ve voted in elections in which I knew I was voting in the minority and those in which I knew I was voting in the majority, and I’ve always felt that it was equally important. Perhaps my vote hasn’t ended up counting in the aggregate, but it has always counted to ME – I’ve done my part, and I’ve voted my conscience – so I suppose that I’ve always felt that it counted.

    Frankly, it always pisses me off a little (or a lot, depending on the person and the presentation) when people profess to be disaffected with the process – I’m a true believer in the whole “if you didn’t vote, you’ve given up your right to complain about the job the elected officials are doing” idea.

    Thank you for reminding people how important it is.

  213. > I also looked up the voter-id requirements for California, I think it’s a federal law because it’s only federal elections. If you registered by mail, you have to provide id the first time you vote in a federal election. There’s the usual list of id things, like utility bill, government check, and others. Mostly to show where you live, since that’s the technically important part.

    I was a polling place officer in California from 1992-2008. It’s totally a federal law; these provisions were added by the Help America Vote Act.

  214. Became a citizen in 2006 and registered to vote in time to vote for our President in 2008. Looking forward to voting for him again. Interesting, my Hubby (became a citizen before me) refuses to vote. Not sure why.

  215. Not sure I’ve seen this comment in the very long thread above:
    I’d love to register, but I am an American who has lived abroad ALL HIS LIFE, and I don’t have any family contacts in the US anymore.
    To explain: you can’t register as a “citizen abroad” – you have to list a stateside address to register.
    A few years ago (the Bush/Kerry election, IIRC) I managed to register in Georgia, but this has lapsed and I have no way to re-register.

    So, NO, John, I’m not registered to vote and what is wrong with me is that the system makes it nigh impossible for me to do so …

  216. Registered. And I always vote. What’s not to like? You get a sticker! I will have to bring ID this year though, which ruins my EEEVIL plan to vote twice.

  217. I will not be voting, since a voter registration form or absentee ballot can’t be received or sent electronically and I won’t have access to snail mail for the next several months due to overseas travel. Funny how paying taxes is incredibly easy to do completely online, but exercising your right to vote is still in a stuck in the 19th century.

  218. Registered to vote, and haven’t missed an election, including the little local ones, in more than six years. The husband is also registered to vote, and is busy arranging his travel schedule to make sure he’s in town on election day (he is overseas up to a couple of months a year total time).

  219. I didn’t vote back in 2008. I was in college and made pretty much the very arguments John mentions. I also hadn’t paid attention to the politics until much too late. By the time I’d made a decision and actually wanted to vote, it was too late to register. I’ve voted in every election since then, and I’m looking forward to casting my lot in this one as well.

    My new voter card has been stuck on the fridge for a month. The wife and I will be updating our driver’s licenses tomorrow so that we’re ready to go come election day.

  220. I’ve often wondered if our country wouldn’t benefit from compulsory voting a la Australia.

    Well, technically, it’s compulsory registration, not compulsory voting; you can turn up and write “I am a fish” on the ballot paper, but as long as your name is ticked off the electoral rolls, you’re fine. The automatic nature of enrollment means that racial, gender and age differences don’t inadvertently disenfranchise people as much as they do in, say, Florida.

    What it also means, from my observation, is that people feel like they have to pay at least cursory attention to the stances of the candidates, and make some sort of decision, even if that decision comes down to declaring themselves piscine. It also means that the votes of highly motivated one-issue loonies, like the Shooters’ Party or the G-d botherers at Family First, do not dominate the landscape; occasionally, a dodgy preference deal will see a loony voted in (our Labour party preferenced FF over the Greens two elections back, frex, and things were looking Christian and loony for a while there – happily, grassroots voter movements rose up and whinged, so not too much damage was done), but generally the backlash sees them voted the heck out again, right quick.

  221. Registered as soon as I could. Vote.

    Want to second another poster’s comment about taking your kids along. In the village where I live, they have punch cards for the kids with historical presidents as the candidates. Kids learn something of the process and are occupied while parent votes.

  222. I’m a US citizen, and have been registered to vote since 1997. I’ve neglected to vote in only one election since then. So, there’s no real question on that front.

    For some reason, it hadn’t occurred to me to bring my toddler with me this year. He’s old enough that he may remember, and at the very least it’ll be the start of a worthwhile family tradition. And, since I vote absentee, all I have to do is drop my ballot in the sealed ballot box, which means there won’t be enough time for the kiddo to get bored.

    Looking forward to election day!

  223. Registered and ready in SoCal.

    For those that aren’t bothering, I’m the one picking the people and propositions that will affect your rights, taxes and the laws you will live under. Muwahahaha.

  224. I’m registered, but I think my spouse has not since we last moved (in state). I registered Republican just so I could take my kids to the educational experience of a caucus.
    This may be of service to someone: I got it off an internet acquaintance and it’s run by the League of Women Voters, which seems to me to be a good organization. It will let you look at your local races as well as tell you what you need to vote.

  225. I’m registered and I always vote and I always feel like a sucker. I totally get it if someone doesn’t want to vote. Also, considering the choices we have, I think anyone should be able to complain even if they don’t vote.

  226. Registered, and still pestering my college age kids to make sure they’re registered. They don’t have to vote my way to get me off their backs – they just have to vote.

    While the outcome of this presidential election is pretty well set in California, (barring a coastal disaster that wipes several major cities off the map) the ballot propositions will undoubtedly pass or fail by small margins. Every vote does count.

  227. I have always been registered to vote, as soon as I turned 18 and could, and have always been registered where ever I lived at, be it central Ohio or north east Florida. I don’t think I’ve missed too many elections, either. I can’t say that I’m perfect in that regard, but I certainly am close, i.e., voted at least 90% of the elections. Primaries… eh, being independent just doesn’t work for voting in primaries.

  228. @ vian

    Well, technically, it’s compulsory registration, not compulsory voting; you can turn up and write “I am a fish” on the ballot paper, but as long as your name is ticked off the electoral rolls, you’re fine.

    That occurred to me right after I posted, but I didn’t want to double-post to correct myself, so thanks for doing that for me.

    I actually didn’t know it was merely compulsory registration until I read (really speed-skimmed) Megpie71’s comment (which I did before I posted, but it hadn’t sunk past all the textbook material vying for new long-term memory space). All I knew was that there were fines for not turning out, but wasn’t aware it was just for registration.

    @ Megpie71

    I wonder whether this mightn’t improve things slightly in the USA for some of the people who are saying that their vote “won’t count” or “there aren’t any decent candidates I can wholeheartedly support” or similar.

    I’ve recently been thinking it might be a good idea to shuck the electoral college and go to a popular vote. I’m not as antipathic toward the current system as many of my fellow Americans, as I do believe it serves a purpose in preventing the homogenization of governance styles among states, but I’ve begun to wonder the last few years if the costs don’t outweigh the benefits. Particularly, I do not like that candidates really only have to convince swing states. Not that a popular vote system would solve the whole enchilada – voter lock-in happens on a district level too – but it would certainly break up the blue-state/red-state divide.

    On the other hand, no candidate in either major party would even entertain the notion of a popular vote, as it would threaten their trust-monopoly, and no solidly blue or red state legislature would ratify the needed Constitutional amendment anyway, for the same reason, so we’re SOL unless the American people decide en masse to tell incumbents their job security depends on doing away with the electoral college. Given that it’s difficult to sustain grass-roots momentum even for ordinary legislative changes, I imagine a snowball fares a better chance below the Solar photosphere. And since I still believe a democratically representative republic is a vastly superior form of government to direct democracy, I’ll take the limitations of constitutional government over mob-rule any day. But that doesn’t mean I have to like everything about it.

  229. Registered since I was 18, voted except when prevented by health issues or work hours; yes, it’s a civic duty, and so’s jury duty (for which I’ve been called three times in the past four years–and gone in all three, and been excused each time).

  230. I registered on my eighteenth birthday and have voted ever since. I get the impression that my vote may not count for as much as it ought while the Electoral College exists, but that doesn’t stop me. I don’t typically vote for the two “mainstream” parties; I look at all the names and vote for the least evil in my view (recalling that relevant South Park episode). I REALLY don’t like that I’ve been put into the “permanent vote by mail” status though. I am NOT sending it by post. Not a trust thing. It’s a “I like closing the curtain” thing.

  231. I’m 38, and this is the first year I’ve EVER registered. It may also be the first time I’ve actually been fired up enough to actually CARE which candidate wins — so often it’s just a matter of “liar” vs. “prevaricator”

  232. Absolutely registered. I’m an overseas voter registered in Connecticut, so if you want an example of an electorally meaningless vote, you can point to me. But it’s MY meaningless vote, dammit, and I’m going to cast it!

  233. shakauvm @ September 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm:

    …If someone had not researched the issues, or has no preference as to candidates, why on earth do you want them to pull that lever? (Or hit the touchscreen or whatever.) You can’t just say, “DEMOCRACY!” and wave the flag around.

    An uninformed voter is worse than a non-voter.

    If you want to argue that our electorate should all be well-educated and well-informed, well, I totally agree with you. As do the Founding Fathers. But I don’t think bullying people into voting when they have no background or desire to do so is the right idea.

    In reverse order:
    1. BS. No one is calling anyone names, hitting with sticks, or throwing rocks. Is peer pressure being exerted? Yes, most definitely. Can that be uncomfortable? Yes, I’m sure. Which brings me to point…

    2. Voting is a collective decision making process. People have died to gain access to that process. This country was split in two and armies fought over who deserved to vote and who didn’t, over who was a citizen, or a person. There’s a very good argument to be made that the only reason there is such a thing as a “United States Citizen” is because of access to collective decision making, i.e. voting. Women formed coalitions, of missionaries, schoolteachers, and prostitutes, to win (or win back, in my state) the right to vote. Women went on hunger strikes, and were tortured, in this country, in order to get to vote. Black Americans were shot, and lynched, and tortured, in this country, for trying to vote.

    Not participating, even if you are committed Monarchist, is disrespectful of your fellow citizens, past, present, and future. It’s rude–plain, old bad manners–and irresponsible.

    3. Ignorance can be cured. The process of voting is easily learned. Citing either as a reason for not voting is patronizing, imo. And really, what is the incentive to learn, if you are not going to use the knowledge? Voting is the best incentive to become informed.

  234. I did better than just register: in fact, I have just voted! (Gotta love overseas absentee balloting).

    I’ll admit, I am a trifle concerned about how good they are about actually hand-counting these non-automated ballots. But I figure I’ve done my part, at least.

  235. Don’t comments oversample the non-completely-apathetic? Every JS reader who did not comment could be not voting right now.

  236. Registered and voting early because I’m going to be exceedingly busy on Election Day itself. Taking OTHER people’s votes at the polls.

  237. Registered and have voted in nearly every election since I turned 18 (exception: missed one minor local election a few years ago, but most of my candidates were running unopposed and it was a very minor local election and I got stuck on a train and couldn’t make it).

    It never ceases to surprise me how many people find jury duty to be so onerous. I understand not wanting to lose the time, but the duty of being on a jury is one of our greatest fundemental rights and I always find myself amazed that people belittle such an important freedom so much. I guess it’s better not to have the Jack Klugman character on the jury, but it’s kind of disheartening that such an important freedom is so devalued by so many people..

  238. Shakauvm:

    “If you want to argue that our electorate should all be well-educated and well-informed, well, I totally agree with you. As do the Founding Fathers.”

    The Founding Fathers thought Voters should be the Aristocracy Version 2.0. Which is why they made it so that only land owning white dudes could vote.

    “No, Martha. I said WE got the volunteer government set up. WE will all take turns managing things. So, that WE can get it right. I’m not going to let Jefferson and his gentlemen fuck this up for me.”

    And then, just case that still let in the riff raff, Senators were to be appointed by local government because, at least they’re one step removed from those riff-raffy voters what they think they should have a say as important as the FOUNDERS.

    The uneducated lout argument is what people use to speak out against those that tend to vote differently from them. Why, you’d never catch the Proper Voters voting to ratify the 15th Amendment. You know, or pretty much any of the amendments 13 through 26. Except for the 21st. The rest of them. You can blame that on voters what didn’t know better.

    Or, I suppose everything you vote for that passes won because finally the educated voices were heard. But, when your issues lost, it was because of all those louts that don’t care about our future enough to really understand it. Don’t get me wrong, the Founders did some world order shattering stuff. And it was glorious. But that doesn’t mean that the “educated voters” argument isn’t, like, totally fucking specious.

  239. I always vote, but have to admit I don’t feel my vote has much impact in my solidly red area. Still, I always go and carefully check the results, too, just in case they claim a 100% vote for, say, David Vitter, and then I can jump in and say “Hey, hold on there.”

  240. Registered and will definitely vote. I think it’s a civic duty. People died for that right. It’s a shame to waste it.

    The whole “both sides are equally corrupt” schtick might make you feel good about not voting, but it’s another excuse for laziness. It’s easier to declare uniform, universal corruption rather than taking the time to learn about the candidates and complicated issues.

    Regarding jury duty, I can understand wanting to avoid it if it’s a financial inconvenience, but if you can afford to do it, it’s also a civic duty. Or, to put it in the words of Josh Lyman, “It’s jury duty. It’s not appendectomy. It’s jury duty. Do it, don’t do it, but if you don’t do it, you don’t get to complain about the O.J. verdict.”

  241. I have been registered in 1973 and have voted in every election held since then, except in 1983, when I was in Greece and the mail or state of Ohio (I never knew which) messed up my absentee ballot – I never got it. I even give extra credit in my classes to students who show up with an “I voted” sticker… Yes, I will vote in this election.

  242. Yes I’m registered to vote, and will be voting. As far as I can recall I’ve only missed being at the poll a couple times in the last 12+ years… once was for some county stuff that wasn’t going to affect my town one way or the other, and another–I think–may have been a primary… usually if the poll is open I’m in line at some point in the day.

  243. I have been registered to vote for a while now. I will be voting.

    I am interested in hearing from undecided voters about why they are undecided. But that would be off topic for here. I do have a post over on my blog devoted to that subject. So if you are an undecided voter, could you tell me your reasons over there? Thanks.

  244. @David
    Thanks for the link. To be fair, it’s not entirely the OVF’s fault that I don’t know where my American parent is registered to vote … and hence that I can’t vote, even if they were in a state that allows it.
    I do think the requirements are a bit odd (e.g. the parent needs to be eligible to vote for you to be able to vote) – especially in a federal ballot. But i guess it’s part and parcel of the indirect voting system.

    As a comparison point, I’ve got French citizenship as well. Being an expat from France, I was able to vote in the last national election without registering in my “last residence” in France. Conversely, I can’t vote in local elections in my hometown anymore because, well, I don’t live there, do I?
    Starting from this year, France has actually created 10 seats in parliament for “Expat French”.

    @John sorry if I’ve moved the thread away from the initial subject. But I thought it might be interesting to get perspective from people for whom it’s actually difficult to register to vote, even though, on principle, I agree with the 99+% commenters here: people died for you to vote, so do it.

  245. Registered. Haven’t missed an election yet, even the little, local, off-year ones. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.

  246. Nope. I’m an expat living in a poor country and am poor myself. I’d like to vote, but I don’t have a printer, and I have to print these forms and mail them to the US, which is expensive, and the last time I did this they didn’t mail me my ballot until the day before the election, so I had to overnight it for $35 that I could hardly afford (and it was a red state anyway, so my $35 didn’t make much of a difference. I can eat for a month on $35.) This year, I’ve looked at the forms, but there isn’t enough room on them to fill out my mailing address, because my street name is really long and has non-English letters in it. So, no, not registered to vote this year. I’d really like to vote, but it’s too expensive and I don’t feel like my vote will count for much anyway.

  247. Nota bene:

    In Massachusetts, you can get put on the “inactive voter” list for forgetting to send in your yearly town census. If you are on this list, you have to show ID that proves residency. This does NOT have to be a photo ID (though a driver’s license would be fine); it could be a utility bill, lease or pay stub with an address on it. Having established residence, you get a regular ballot, not some provisional ballot.

    This happened to me this year. The reason I found out it had happened to me is that I voted in the state primary election. That’s actually a good reason to vote in primaries: it gives you an opportunity to check the mic, so to speak, before the general election.

    This isn’t a new law. However, not to get too far into the partisan stuff, but I know from poking around the web that certain elements in Massachusetts are really, really keen on making absolutely sure this law gets enforced this year. And it is the law, regardless of what one may think about it.

    So be aware. It’s probably too late to send in your town census, if you didn’t do it. But whether you did or not, you might do well to make sure you have something on you that proves residence, just in case.

  248. Warlord, you say you won’t vote because you don’t like the candidates. There are four candidates on the MA ballot. I’m not sure where you are but there may be 3 or 4 as well. You can also write in a name. It’s still better than NOT voting.

  249. My polling place is in a church and I don’t like God seeing my ballot.

    This one is entertainingly nuts.

  250. Of course I’m registered to vote. And I do vote. And I read about the candidates and propositions on the ballot so I’m informed about my vote. And I do my research before I go to the polls, not after. And I don’t say stupid things like “He’s not my president.” after an election when the candidate I don’t like wins. I may not like the candidate, but the president, congressman, or senator is representing me after the election, whether I or they like it or not.

  251. 1) Margins matter. A win by 1% will often cause the people to act differently than a win by 2%, which is in turn different than how they act with a win by 3%, and so on.

    2) This is especially important for third parties. Don’t like the two main options? Pump up a third party and bring them closer to relevance. Make the main parties feel the heat.

    3) Simply increasing the participation rate makes the elected feel pressure more keenly. They feel that they’re being watched. Especially in these days of microtargeted campaigning, you don’t want them to be able to win by pandering to a small crowd… especially one that hasn’t got anything to do with you.

  252. I’ve always thought it was a shame the U.S. doesn’t allow “none of the above” as a choice on the ballot.

    Voting for a minority party has never bothered me — even if a county or state leans heavily Democratic or Republican, the mere fact that people are still voting for candidates predicted to lose is a reminder to the winners that the citizenry doesn’t have a hive mind.

  253. Registered, checked my registration records to make sure there wasn’t a screw-up since the last time, and confirmed my polling place.

    And I’d remind folk to do this for local and state elections too, even in non-presidential years, because those are decisions that will significantly and immediately affect your life – and your vote definitely counts.

  254. Interesting. A quick scan of 286 responses seems to indicate 100% of Whatever readers are registered to vote. Either that or the unregistered ones are keeping a low profile. Make me number 287. Voting is the least I can do given the sacrifices of so many to give us the lifestyle we have.

  255. @Paul A I realize there is much more to your story, but I am curious about something. You said you have never lived in the US and gave no indication of returning any time soon. While the Presidential race certainly gets the lion’s share of the media coverage, in any given County, there are dozens of other positions and measures on the ballot. If you are not residing here, and have no intention of doing so, should a ballot encompassing all those things really be sent your way?

    In other words, philosophically, if you have no ties to a community, and no intention of joining it, should you really be given a voice in its affairs? Just a thought and, no doubt, the entirety of your circumstances explains it.

  256. Yes. Here in Iowa, the retention of judges on our state supreme court is decided by the voters. In 2010, three of the judges who participated in the ruling that allowed same-sex marriage in Iowa were voted out, after a campaign by same-sex marriage opponents- many of whom were not residents of the state of Iowa- to remove them. It was the first time since the current system was enacted in 1962 that any judge had been removed in this manner. This year, another judge who participated in that decision is up for retention, and there have again been bus tours by opponents to drum up votes to remove the judge.

  257. @D. Paul Angel

    I’m not Paul A, but I’m in a similar situation, because I was too young to care about politics much when I left, except I do have some ties left to the US. But beyond that I have friends online and I care about what happens to people, regardless of what country they live in. In they give me a vote, then why not use it? I can vote against policies I consider racist to try to help out strangers I’ll never meet, or I can vote against policies I consider sexist or homophobic to help out fellow women (most of whom I’ll never meet) and fellow LGBT persons. That would be mainly for the local elections: local to an address I lived at as a child.

    And then for the presidential elections, well unfortunately the US is a world power so their choices affect my country too, especially if my country stays in the spotlight for its bad behavior. There’s also global warming: the US’s carbon emissions effect the rest of the planet, and I live somewhere on the planet, so if I’m given a say about local environmental matters, I’d feel entitled to it.

    Financial decisions made by the US have an effect on the world economy, and hospitals around my country are having to close because they can’t afford to pay the doctors, and this is a direct result of stuff that happened in 2009. When I sprained my ankle, I was sent home from the hospital in a taxi, with no crutches and a prescription for an ankle brace because the hospital couldn’t afford to keep them in stock. Plenty of my country’s problems are our own fault, of course, but we’re affected by the global market and the US is a major player in the global market, so if the US wants to give me a say, then I’ll use it.

    Many of the countries in the area where I live in look to the US as some sort of a role model (this is overgeneralising, and there are different factions. But “what is the US doing?” is a part of the discussion of “how should things be done?” If people in the US lose rights and freedoms, that can trickle down to here, thousands of kilometres away, even if most people in the US have never heard of the country in which I live. Similarly, voting to improve accessibility in the US could eventually improve accessibility where I live. Maybe someday I too will be able to watch TV with closed captions. Just recently people in wheelchairs are now able to use our public transportation. Some of our banks train their staff in sign language now. And we have a new law that means nutritional information on food needs to be put on the wrappers, so that if a food has something I’m allergic to as an ingredient, I can read the label. Five, ten years ago, we didn’t have ingredients listed on our foods. If voters in the US decide these things aren’t important anymore, my country may follow suit.

    A lot of websites I used are hosted in the US, so US internet laws potentially have an effect on me too.

    Living abroad lets me see the US from the outside in. It gives me a perspective on local affairs that a person living there might not have. I feel that my perspective is unique and valuable.

    I really wish I could to use the vote that I’m technically entitled to, but it’s too expensive and there are too many hurdles.

  258. Probably off the main topic, sorry, but sorta analogous to the points raised about the relation (or lack of) between voter registration and jury duty …

    Here in Canada, on your tax return at the bottom there’s been for a few years two questions added:
    (1) Are you a Canadian citizen?
    (2) If yes, do you grant Revenue Canada permission to share your current contact info with Elections Canada?

    If you grant permission, that’s a major shortcut in keeping your registration updated.

  259. @Ž Thanks for the reply, I greatly appreciate it. I posted the question because I was genuinely curious, and knew there was something I was missing from my perspective. So thank you for helping me understand what it was.

  260. Registered and have voted in every election since I turned 18. First time I went to the polls with Mom (at 4 years old) we saved the country from that right-wing-nut Goldwater, who would, ironically be more at home amongst the dems now.

  261. I’ve been registered to vote since I turned 18. I won’t say I’ve never missed a vote, but I’ve hit all the general elections and most of the primaries since then.

    To the person who said the “advantage” of not being registered to vote is that they don’t get called for jury duty: get your fucking ass out of this country, since you don’t give a shit about your civic responsibilities. What a contemptible piece of trash you are. Go live in someplace like Somalia, where it doesn’t matter.

  262. In PA we have the “motor voter” law. When I went to get my driver’s license pic taken this summer (I look oddly like somebody from 1940s Appalachia in it, but that’s another post), I had to answer questions asking my address was correct for purposes of voting. If you change your driver’s license address, the state automatically changes your voter registration address. Also you have the necessary ID with the license, of course. I am still hoping the voter ID law gets overturned before Election Day.

    P.S. I also doublechecked here.

  263. @Mintwich:

    I’ll repeat what I said. Using peer pressure to force someone to vote has become its own sort of runaway meme in our culture. (Puff Daddy’s “Vote or Die” was parodied on South Park for this reason.) But I think it is counterproductive to democracy to force someone to vote, when they don’t know the issues.

    A cynical person might even say that MTV’s over-the-top efforts in this regard (at least, back when I used to watch MTV a decade ago) is an attempt to influence the election toward the Democrat party! Obama won voters under 30 by 34 points in 2008.

    Yes, I understand that people died for our right to vote, which is why I take it so seriously. (I’ll drive downtown and cast ballots early if I know I’ll be out of town on a business trip.) I just don’t see why you should vote for one of two candidates when you hate both of them, or why you’d want someone to vote when they’re completely uninformed in the issues. In my opinion, this actually defeats the purpose of Democracy.

  264. Yes I am registered to vote and have, I believe, voted in every election I was eligible to vote in for fifty years. I was raised in the day when voting was regarded as both a privilege and a duty.

  265. vian:

    I think it also helps that here in Australia we have an electoral campaign period which is limited to a maximum of six weeks by law (for Federal elections, at least). So we don’t wind up with what I can only term “campaign fatigue” as a result of an election campaign process dragging on for months or even years. Instead, we have the various parties and candidates doing a maximum of a month and a half of serious campaigning and laying out of policies and platforms, and the rest of the time they’re supposed to be getting on with the serious business of governing the country.

    (Not that they actually do this, of course.)

    There are other countries with similar restrictions – I know the UK is one, and I suspect New Zealand has something similar in place. Of course, the Kiwis go one even better – in the three days leading up to the polls, there are NO political ads allowed, in order to let people make up their minds in peace. Plus they don’t allow any political advertising anywhere near the polling places, which would make a wonderful change from the local Liberals basically shrink-wrapping every primary school in the metro area with their candidates faces.

    With regard to compulsory turnout: one thing it is good for is ensuring that “accidental” disenfranchisement through things like inaccessible polling places, inability to take time off work, lack of materials in a given language and similar aren’t as easy to achieve. It means we have people in the AEC doing things like trying to work out how to allow people who are blind to submit their votes without needing assistance. It means we have at least one polling place in every electorate (and often more than one) which is wheelchair accessible; it means we have mobile polling booths which go around hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons (yes, prisons – if your custodial sentence is under 3 years duration, you still have to vote) to allow people who can’t physically access another polling place to cast their vote. It means we have remote polling places in isolated communities out in the middle of the country where their ballot boxes are flown in and out (and usually they vote early, so their votes can be counted on election day). Our AEC does a LOT of work to ensure that everyone who needs to vote can vote, no matter who or where they are, or what they’re doing.

    Plus, of course, it means that the major parties can’t really enjoy themselves with dirty tricks campaigns to try and prevent people from enrolling and/or voting if they think there’s a chance it would swing things their way.

  266. Shakauvm:

    “But I think it is counterproductive to democracy to force someone to vote, when they don’t know the issues.”

    Are you saying that access to common information mediums of the time is implicitly a democratic necessity and therefore a human right? For example, do you support the idea that access to the Internet is a human rights issue?

    Or, are you saying that people who don’t have access to information really shouldn’t vote, be allowed to vote, whatever? For example, would you support a common knowledge poll test for access to a ballot? And, if so, what kind of questions would be on it? (I’ll assume we agree this is an implied literacy test).

    How do you determine whether or not they know the issues? And how is that detrimental to democracy if they don’t? And how many people do you think go vote who don’t have a clue what they’re doing? What percentage of the voting population pull the voting equivalent of a DUI?

    Because, I kind of think it’s ludicrious to assert that exercising the right to vote is – in any way – counter productive to democracy.

  267. Does it make me a bad person that I vote primarily for the Senior Citizen bake sale at my voting location?

    Mmmmmmm tasty democracy!!! And a free smug sticker to boot!

  268. Shakauvm:
    You’ve convinced me. I don’t think you should vote, because you are completely uninformed about the basic tenets of democracy, i.e. social and political equality for everyone, even dumbasses. It’s probably best for everyone if you just stay home.

  269. @shakauvm: the US does not have compulsory voting. There is no way to ‘force someone to vote’ unless you’re talking about marching your buddies into the polling place at gunpoint, which is highly illegal.

    On jury duty, it never ceases to amaze me that the people who are the whiniest and most self-centered about not wanting to serve are those with the highest ability to make the time (and get paid) for it. There’s nothing like having a business executive or a lawyer tell you they’re tooooo busy, even though yes their boss will pay them, and the guy sitting next to her is a minimum wage worker on swing shift who says “Well, I’ll have to juggle my childcare, but you know, it’s a civic duty, so I’ll make it work.”

  270. I don’t necessarily vote in all the primaries. Usually they’re pretty pathetic around here.

    Mythago, the idea of civic duty is widely regarded as a fiction. In fact, I find that outside military circles (military people and their family and friends) the whole concept of “duty” is underrated.* I also think that the richer people get the less they understand that they owe service of any kind to anyone. There are extraordinary exceptions to this, but it’s a general pattern.

    *There are pockets of exceptions, like the SCA, but even there the concept is often regarded as part of the game.

  271. Registered since I was 18 (I’m 25 now) here in North Carolina. I’ve voted in a Senate/local election, the ’08 presidential and the primary earlier this year and plan to vote this November. Sitting here looking up candidates and issues right now. Apparently I live in a swing state. Interesting.

  272. registered, and plan to vote as soon as our mail-in ballots get here (which they tell us will be soonish) but honestly? All I can tell you that I cannot for the life of me stomach the idea of voting for the likes of Romney and the party shenanigans for which he (by virtue of being the “head” of the party, stands) – but that Obama is not filling me with a huge amount of enthusiasm either. Drones, anyone?… I still haven’t decided whether I will just vote for a third party. And yes, I know all the arguments about a “wasted” vote – but people, here’s the thing. IT STOPS BEING A WASTED VOTE IF ENOUGH OF US DO IT. The thing is, I know SO little about any candidate other than Obama/Romney, and that can be laid at the door of the media, who are pretty much uninterested in anything other than one-or-the-other-mainstream. American politics are strait-jacketed to a point that’s gone beyond a joke now.

  273. I have voted in every election I could since 1972. I will most certainly vote this year because of the two amendments in Minnesota. I do NOT want to see voter ID pass, which would end our same day registration, and I do NOT want a ban on same sex marriage in our constitution. I am only too aware of how narrow Al Franken’s win was a couple of years ago.

    I saw at least one Minnesotan upthread asking about how to check if they are registered. You can go here:
    to find out if you are registered, and print out a registration form if you aren’t.

  274. I’m working at a used book store in Virginia and I’ve been trying to ensure Scalzi gets the proper bookshelf position he deserves. Which is hard when people are constantly bringing in huge piles of Hubbard. Anyway, there’s been one thing about the voting discussion that has been driving me nuts… and that is pundits telling people to vote strategically and people voting like pundits. Your vote is only an expression of your own social morality… because it has no bearing on THE OUTCOME of the election. That’s not to say your vote doesn’t matter. I’m not a political blogger or anything… but I’ve been so hung up on this point I had to write something about it ( Not trying to spam, this has just really really really been bugging me. I’m a long time reader of the site and what you’ve written here seems perfectly in line with my basic thesis.

  275. I have voted in virtually every election since I was 18. (Missed one general election while I was off at college, and had not applied for an absentee ballot.)

    I do not mind it when people I disagree with fail to vote, and get rather disgusted when my cohort fails to. That said, my politics are convoluted enough that finding my cohort can be a bit of a challenge. (Started pretty red, ended up wildly blue, but with enough oddball elements that I can frustrate virtually any stock political stance.)

    To be honest, I would rather have real engagement by both sides than the current political theater, since I expect the pragmatic moderates would win out, and I can probably live with the compromise positions that would result more easily than some of what we have had lately.

    I do go to jury duty, and have only once had to point out that I believe in jury nullification. The judge was not thrilled at my views, but given that I was perfectly willing to stay, or to be empaneled on a different jury, settled for sighing heavily. Civil cases, or criminal cases where they are not about IP, drug use, or excessive police violence are easier.

  276. Registered for decadea. Just finished filling out my application for an absentee ballot, since I will be in Russia on Election Day this year. With the time difference, I am going to have to actually go to sleep not yet knowing the results. That will be difficult.

    My state distributes ballots starting 31 days before the election, so I expect to get it in plenty of time to vote.

  277. Voted in every election since I was 18. Kind of surprised how many people seem to have churches as polling places. Pretty much everywhere in HI uses public schools. Which is good, since I burst into flames on holy ground. Which would be kind of embarrassing.

  278. Thank you for this gentle nudge. I have just filled out a voter registration form and will mail it in tomorrow. I voted in the ’92 general election, and haven’t voted since out of apathy. Guess it’s time to grow up a bit.

  279. Not only am I registered, I’m Poll worker. A small return on the privilege of working here. If you can, go sign up. It’s hard to get people.

  280. Been registered since I was 17 (thanks Ohio!), and have only missed one election of any sort since, and even that one missed election I showed up to vote. I have been known to submit a blank ballot when I disliked all of my options. One time in college I flew back to Ohio to yell at the BOE after they failed to send me my absentee ballot.

    I’m in NY now, which has fusion voting, so I can support a third party while not running the risk of siphoning votes away from a major party candidate I would like to win. Extra bonus: NY only verifies identity through signature. No ID needed.

  281. i have been a resident o f washington state for over 30 years and have voted on occasion, They say i’m not registered to vote and it’s too late for this election. i just renewed my license this year and registering was part of it. The dol isn’t doing their job or what?. i believe an investigation is in order because i’m sure i’m not the only one that this is happening to. Finished with this buricratic self fullfilling system and their incompetant brain dead foriegn and racist employees.

  282. The above post, claiming to be about pictures, is comment spam. I reported it before, but my report was deleted, and the spam itself wasn’t. I certainly don’t mind my spam reports going away with the spam they report; it’s when they disappear by themselves that I get confused. Perhaps you don’t believe it’s spam? Well, two things: 1, there are no images in the original post, nor were meant to be, and 2, just google that last sentence. Over five million hits.

    I’m just trying to be helpful here; if you don’t want spam reports, please tell me.

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