I Don't Like Either Candidate — I Voted Anyway

"Your vote matters." You've probably heard this multiple times over now. Everyone from grassroots activists to prominent tech CEO's have been pushing voter turnout this election. I often find my friends and I turning to each other and saying something along the lines of, "I don't remember there being so many voting ads in the 2016 election." But I couldn't even vote then — maybe I just didn't notice them because I knew I couldn't voice my opinion. I think back now to how I would have voted during that election and, even though I know exactly who I would choose, I wouldn't necessarily be proud of that choice.

I find myself in a similar position this election cycle. What’s the point of voting if I hate both candidates vehemently? I’ve struggled with this for quite some time, but ultimately, I've decided I should vote anyway. And if anyone else feels as disenfranchised as I do, I hope they'll come to the same conclusion.

People standing inside of blue material voter polls Photo by Morning Brew from Unsplash

I think our votes do matter. If they didn’t, why would the people in power spend so much time and so many resources trying to suppress them? There's an issue on the California ballot this year that I feel passionately about: whether or not nonviolent parolees should have the right to vote. I was surprised to learn that parolees couldn’t vote; California is usually pretty progressive when it comes to prison reform. Even historically, the right to vote has been suppressed by the people in power because they know — if each and every American voted — that election outcomes would be drastically different. America will never be a true democracy, but having fair elections is one of the biggest indicators of a successful democratic country.

But how should we vote? We’re stuck with candidates we don’t like and are still lost. The easiest answer is that you should vote how you take multiple-choice tests: using the process of elimination. While many people vote based on which candidate they agree with, some vote according to which candidate they dislike less (and that’s ok). People who vote that way actually have less of a tendency to be swayed by emotions and more of a tendency to be informed voters. I don’t think I will ever agree with a candidate completely, but that isn’t a sign of defeat; rather, it’s a sign of maturity.

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This year, there are also a lot of other things besides the presidential candidates to vote on. Perhaps you feel more comfortable researching and learning about your representatives, so start there. If you feel like your vote doesn't matter, consider thinking about how your vote matters in your local and state elections. Change doesn't need to happen from the top down necessarily, and, if there's anything I've learned these past few years, real change takes time.