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First off, it is in fact rational to vote. My standard answer to… - skooshje
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Sun, Nov. 2nd, 2008 04:17 pm
First off, it is in fact rational to vote. My standard answer to people who ask me why they should vote when one vote is incredibly unlikely to make a difference is that higher turnout in one's locality (electoral precinct, Congressional district, city, county) or demographic (age, race/ethnicity, gender, income bracket) translates to increased political influence. If you don't vote, then you don't count, and if people like you don't vote, then people like you don't count when it comes to deciding who gets what in the political process.  That's why it was such a struggle to get the right to vote for nonwhite men, and then for women, and then nonwhite people again, but for real this time.  People with real power often don't like sharing it, and the resistance put up against sharing the vote indicates that voting means real power.  That's what I usually say when people wonder what's in it for them. 

However, while I wasn't looking, a few professors have come up with a more economist-friendly argument in favor of voting. In "Vote for Charity's Sake", Aaron Edlin, Andrew Gelman, and Noah Kaplan argue that voters who desire a social benefit for all citizens usually have good reason to take an hour out of their day to cast a ballot on Election Day. Basically, it's perfectly rational to get out there and vote if you care about your country. Rarely has rational-choice theory made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside.

Okay, so now that we know that every decent American should vote (our very future is at stake!), how are you supposed to do it? And where? And for whom? The League of Women Voters has a polling place finder, state-by-state information for new and returning voters, and more at Vote411.org. If you live in New York State, you can verify your registration with the Board of Elections, as well as your various electoral districts. If you live in Erie County, the Buffalo/Niagara LWV has a voting guide with an overview of candidates and ballot measures; if you don't, your local chapter of the LWV may have something similar for your locale. 




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