Why Vote?


Pamela Perry Blaine

© October 2004


Not long ago I read where one person was telling another that their vote wasn’t going to count because they were voting to “cancel out their vote”.  In other words, this person didn’t like the way the other was voting so they were going to see that their vote didn’t count by voting for the opposite candidate.   This seemed a little confusing to me.  If one person can vote to cancel another person’s vote, then which person is doing the canceling?  Is it the one who threatens to cancel the other’s vote first or the one who gets to the polls last?  If this were the case, we could all get our families together and determine who is canceling out who’s vote, count up the votes not cancelled, and save time and energy by just sending only those people who haven’t been cancelled out to the polls.


Why should we vote?  Is it so that we can get some free time off from work to go vote?  Is it because for those who are unattached, there is a possibility, however slight, that you might meet the love of your life standing in line at the polls?  Actually, I think that a lot of people have spent a lot of money to buy our votes so let’s disappoint them by voting our consciences.


All humor aside, this sort of thinking about canceling votes or voting for the wrong reason makes people think that their vote doesn’t count.  It is a well-known fact that one vote can make a difference and a whole group of people deciding to make a difference can change an election.  Here are just a few examples of the value of one vote:  


1645 - One Vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England.

1649 - One Vote caused Charles I of England to be executed.

1776 - One Vote gave America the English language instead of German.

1800 – One Vote gave Thomas Jefferson the presidency over Aaron Burr

1845 – One Vote gave Texas and Washington statehood

1876 - One Vote changed France from a monarchy to a republic.

1876 - One Vote made Rutherford B. Hayes the President.

1923 - One Vote gave Adolph Hitler leadership of the Nazi party.

1941 - One Vote saved Selective Service just weeks before Pearl Harbor.


These are a few of my reasons for voting:


v     -I vote because there are other countries where people are not allowed the freedom to vote at all but must live in fear and oppression.


v     -I vote because in some nations, many risk their lives just to go cast their ballot.  I can do it freely without fear and I should not take that freedom lightly.


v     -I vote because we have a say in who gets hired to represent us and we pay their salary.  If we don’t participate, we shouldn’t have the right to complain.


v     -I vote because I am a woman and my grandmothers before me were not allowed the freedom to vote.  Some women were even jailed trying to achieve that right.  (Women gained the right to vote in 1920)


v     -I vote because my father, my father-in-law, and my brother went in harm’s way to keep our country free so that I could continue to vote.


v     -I vote because our country was founded on the principles of freedom and democracy. I believe we should live up to our legacy and exercise our right to vote.


v     I vote because our ancestors fought and died that we might live in a country where we have the freedom to vote.


v     -I vote because many more are still dying every year, every month, and each day for a taste of the freedom we take for granted.


v     -I vote because I am thankful for the opportunity and grateful that we live in a country where we can vote.


v     -I vote because God has given us that right and told us to be involved and to pray “for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.”


Voting is a very important activity that should be taken seriously.  The candidates should be considered for their experience, ability, and past voting record if they have previously held office.  An election is not a popularity contest.  After all, if we were to have brain surgery, wouldn’t we choose a doctor who had experience, ability, and had a past record of successful surgeries.  I suspect that we would consider his looks or popularity of little consequence.    


In 1770, there were some words written by Alexander Tyler that we would do well to heed today: 

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over a fiscal responsibility, always followed by a dictatorship. The average of the world’s great civilizations before they decline has been 200 years. These nations have progressed in this sequence: From (1) bondage to spiritual faith; from (2) spiritual faith to great courage; from (3) courage to liberty; from (4) liberty to abundance; from (5) abundance to selfishness; from (6) selfishness to complacency; from (7) complacency to apathy; from (8) apathy to dependency; from (9) dependency back again to bondage.”

- Alexander Tyler, in his 1770 book, Cycle of Democracy


 Our country has lasted well over 200 years because God has allowed it to be so.  We have kept our spiritual faith, liberty, and courage for many years.  Yet, I wonder where do you think we are in this cycle of democracy today?


Remember your vote does count and nobody can cancel it out because each vote stands for a person and every person has value.  See you at the polls!

“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.”

- Benjamin Franklin

The following article was written a long time ago, yet I think it has a lot to say to all of us in this election year.  It could well have been written today. As you read, think seriously about what it says to all of us in the times that we live.  When you get to the end, I think you will be surprised to see who wrote the article.  (Pam) 

“It will be conceded that every man's first duty is to God; it will also be conceded, and with strong emphasis, that a Christian's first duty is to God. It then follows, as a matter of course, that it is his duty to carry his Christian code of morals to the polls and vote them. Whenever he shall do that, he will not find himself voting for an unclean man, a dishonest man.
Whenever a Christian votes, he votes against God or for Him, and he knows this quite well. God is an issue in every election; He is a candidate in the
person of every clean nominee on every ticket; His purity and His approval are there, to be voted for or voted against, and no fealty to party can absolve His servant from his higher and more exacting fealty to Him; He takes precedence of party, duty to Him is above every claim of party.

If Christians should vote their duty to God at the polls, they would carry every election, and do it with ease. They would elect every clean candidate
in the United States, and defeat every soiled one. Their prodigious power would be quickly realized and recognized, and afterward there would be no
unclean candidates upon any ticket, and graft would cease.

No church organization can be found in the country that would elect men of foul character to be its shepherd, its treasurer, and superintendent of its
Sunday school. It would be revolted at the idea; it would consider such an election an insult to God. Yet every Christian congregation in the country
elects foul men to public office, while quite aware that this also is an open and deliberate insult to God, who can not approve and does not approve the placing of the liberties and the well-being of His children in the hands of infamous men. It is the Christian congregations that are responsible for the filling of our public offices with criminals, for the reason that they could prevent it if they chose to do it. They could prevent it without organizing a league, without framing a platform, without making any speeches or passing any resolutions -- in a word, without concert of any kind. They could accomplish it by each individual resolving to vote for God at the polls -- that is to say, vote for the candidate whom God would approve. Can a man imagine such a thing as God being a Republican or a Democrat, and voting for a criminal or a blackguard merely because party loyalty required it? Then can we imagine that a man can improve upon God's attitude in this matter, and by help of professional politicians invent a better policy? God has no politics but cleanliness and honesty, and it is good enough for men. . If the Christians of America could be persuaded to vote God and a clean ticket, it would bring about a moral revolution that would be incalculably beneficent. It would save the country -- a country whose Christians have betrayed it and are destroying it.
The Christian vote -- it alone, is the master of the situation, and lord of the result."

By Mark Twain
Collier's Magazine (Sept. 2, 1905)