I'm writing from Concepcion, Paraguay, where I am serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. Voting for me this year is quite an ordeal. In order to make sure my vote will be counted, I need to turn it in to the Peace Corps by Oct. 21, which means taking an overnight bus to Asuncion, where my absentee ballot has been sent. Then I'll be on the next bus back home, in order to teach my English class.
My decision to go to this effort to vote is not driven by the magnitude of this election; frankly I am more interested in the California races. I haven't deluded myself into thinking my one little vote will change the outcome of a multibillion-dollar election. Or in a way, maybe it will.
I'm voting because I believe in the idea. I believe voting is a privilege and a responsibility, and I feel honored to do it. I'm voting because I can't imagine the alternative: declaring that my choice doesn't matter, that others can decide for me. There are plenty of problems with voting and the political system in general, but the only remedy is believing (and acting on that belief) in the basics of democracy -- that I, a 24-year-old female U.S. citizen living in Paraguay, have as much right to choose my leaders as anyone else, and I will do whatever it takes to exercise that right.
I know that it's hard to be a voter in California because the election is usually determined before the news reports the vote totals from our state. I would encourage voters to vote anyway. Your vote impacts the popular-vote total, adding legitimacy to our presidential candidates as well as our entire system.
Your vote is not just for a candidate, but a vote in favor of representative government. Your vote always counts as a sign to your neighbors and to the rest of the world that you agree with our system of voting and representative government.
I think Ronald Brownstein has it wrong in his article ("No Matter Who Wins, Half of America Will Be Unhappy," Oct. 18). Because only 50% of Americans care enough to vote in the first place, that means it's only going to be a quarter of America who will be unhappy after the elections.