Why You Should Vote – Even When It Feels Like It Doesn’t Make a Difference

(Everyday Bravery, Day 16)

In which I make my case for why voting is so important, including a few points that voters in this particular election might keep in mind:

6) Assumptions can easily throw off a race. Are you assuming that the incumbent in your district is a shoe-in? Lots of other people are probably thinking the same thing. And when lots of people all make the same assumption… that’s when surprises happen. Maybe you like the guy, maybe you don’t – but when enough people stay home because they think he’s a sure thing, there’s a real chance that his opponent will catch him. Take challengers seriously. Don’t assume.

7) Your vote sends a message even when it’s not cast for the winner. Political types don’t just look to see who won a race. They look for how many people turned out, how close the margin was, how third-party candidates fared, etc. Maybe your guy won’t win. But if he does nearly as well as his opponent (or even just ‘better than expected’), that winner is more likely to tread carefully once he’s in office. Also, this election’s results may impact next elections’ prospects: a candidate who makes a good showing in one election cycle will likely have an easier time raising funds and attracting supporters in the next one.

9) Voting sends a message to your children that civic engagement is important. Maybe you live in a state (like I do) that’s completely dominated by one political party. Maybe you’ve rarely had one of your preferred candidates win an election. Maybe it feels like your vote has never mattered. But your children may find themselves in quite a different situation. They may go on to live in a different state, in a competitive district, where their vote makes a world of difference. Set the precedent now; help them to see voting as normal, as a responsibility and an honor.

Even if your children don’t end up in a district where they feel like they can make a difference, seeing you vote – in every election – will teach them something about stepping up. It will teach them something about doing their part, about trying to make a difference against all odds. Maybe it will even teach them something about bravery. Your example will serve them in more of life than just the voting booth.

Read the rest at the Catholic Review.



This post is the sixteenth in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month From October through however-long-it-takes-me-to-get-to-31-days I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.


Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

4 thoughts on “Why You Should Vote – Even When It Feels Like It Doesn’t Make a Difference

  1. #9 hit kind of close to home, Julie. My grandparent’s (who voted Republican) lived in MD and after the 2012 election my disheartened grandma told my mom that her vote that election didn’t matter. She ended up passing away about a month later, and like you mentioned above, the message about civic engagement she sent to our family is important! I’m so proud of her that at 91 and in a blue state she didn’t “bow out” of the vote.
    Thanks for continuing this series!

  2. It’s also important because you’re not just voting for presidents. Most ballots have amendments, often tax related, that are state issues or even particular issues in the city or county. Your vote has significant weight in these matters, and you get to see first hand the results. For instance, Atlanta’s ballot will include a measure for increasing revenues for public transit and road repair; anyone who’s driven through Atlanta knows this situation is dire. We also have state wide amendments regarding education and the judicial system. Remember to research your particular ballot!

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