Red State or Blue State: Your Vote Counts

“How old should my child be before I tell him his vote doesn’t count?” spoke up a woman in the audience who had heard my speech about election day history. She went on to relate that she had read about this question in a piece written by Gail Collins in The New York Times.

This comment reminded me of another recent letter to the editor written by a woman who was the mother of two Harvard-educated sons, neither of whom planned to vote in ’08 because “they felt their votes didn’t count.”

So if you’re a Republican voter in a Democratic-leaning state, or a Democratic voter in Republican territory, is your vote in vain?

Of course not. Each of us has the privilege — but also the responsibility — of casting our votes in each and every election. Whether we live in a “red state” or a “blue state,” our votes do count. While your one vote may not be enough to change your state’s electoral count, your vote still makes a difference.

Whether John McCain or Barack Obama wins on Tuesday, that incoming candidate needs to know the size of his base. If he wins by a landslide, he can go forward more quickly with his plans for the country, but if he barely squeaks by in the popular vote, then he had better do some campaigning for unity before his administration gets underway.

And if this doesn’t make voting a top priority for you, then pick up your local community newspaper. No one is going to the polls simply to pick a president. Every town has a host of other officials who need to be elected and other decisions that require a vote; usually these local issues are the real “pocketbook” issues that we vote upon. (This year our economy is in such bad shape our presidential vote is very much a “pocketbook” issue, too.)

If you live in a state where you’ve been able to vote early, congratulations. For those of us who are limited to voting on Election Day, plan out your day so that you are sure to make it to the polls. Every election is important, but this year, it really is a “referendum on America.” What we decide will be watched by people all over the world — it matters to them, too. Please vote on Tuesday.

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