With all the talk of swing states determining the current presidential electionwith almost hourly updates available on the Internet, giving the edge to one candidate and then the nextit's easy to feel that your vote is not being courted. But even though we do not live in the battlefield state of Florida, and even if you were unable to make the trip to Ohio or Wisconsin over the weekend like many Hyde Parkers, the ballot you cast today will be an integral part of the democratic process.
The vote you cast gives your candidate a mandate; in this election and others, it lets him or her know of the core base of support that exists. For example: Although we feel fairly certain that Illinois will go toward Democratic candidate John Kerry, no matter who the victor of the 2004 election is, that person will be aware of the large bloc of youth voters that exists in our state. This is an invaluable part of ensuring that our issues of importance are addressed in the upcoming years.
If you're disillusioned about not living in a swing state, perhaps you're even more turned off by the various campaigns to register youth voters. Maybe you find P. Diddy's "Vote or Die" slogan too strident. Maybe you're not a "Punk Rock Voter." You don't care about Bruce Springsteen or Eminem and you dislike the Dixie Chicks for their music, not their politics. This does not negate the fact that the youth vote is important, even in a non-swing state, because it lets politicians in the present and future know that they are supported and will be held accountable for their stances on the issues. Maybe P. Diddy is wrong; if you don't vote, you probably won't die. But you're almost certain to be disappointed.