Should I Vote In My GOP Primary? Here's What You Need To Keep In Mind

Perhaps you feel like Ted Cruz's wife, Heidi, elbowed in the face by the race for the Republican nomination. Your man left the race. Either it was Cruz himself, John Kasich, or some other candidate who dropped out ages ago. Now, like soggy pakora at an Indian buffet just before closing, the only option left is Donald Trump. For you late-comers to the presidential primary party, this has to be a true bummer. Maybe you've even asked yourself, "Is voting in the Republican primaries worth it?" Yes, my friend, it totally is.

For one thing, you should always exercise your right to vote. You're lucky to have one. Back when this country was founded only white, male property owners could vote in U.S. elections. The electorate has been expanded over the years to include women, people of all races, and young folks from age 18 to 21 — who in some states couldn't vote until the 26th Amendment was passed in 1971. Even today we see ex-felons being re-enfranchised in places like Virginia. And, yep, there's plenty work still to do to increase voter access. So if you're lucky enough to be eligible and registered, you should not take that lightly.

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Secondly, if you have hesitations about voting, it's probably due to Trump. Even though he's the only candidate running, he's not the only person on the ballot. Go and show that you prefer someone else. What he — and some parts of the Republican Party — are doing now is working to consolidate his candidacy and support, even though officially Trump doesn't care if the party unites. That's not true; he needs the GOP for fundraising and campaign staffing. The fewer delegates he has going into the convention, the further he is from winning over the hesitant among the GOP and the less helpful the GOP will be to him.

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Take South Dakota as an example. They're one of the last states to hold their Republican primary on June 7. The ballots have already been printed and some have even been turned in. Any of those for Cruz or Kasich already cast will still be counted, as will anyone who votes for those two on election day. In theory, one of them could even win the state still, and even reenter the race. That's highly unlikely, but you never know. Other states, like Oregon, that allocate their delegates proportionately will be even more likely to an elect a Cruz or Kasich delegate, lessening Trump's majority.

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Plus by voting you kind of get to stick it to Trump. He told voters in West Virginia not to even bother: "And now, what I want you to do is save your vote. You know, you don't have to vote anymore. Save your vote for the general election, okay? Forget this one," he said at a rally. "In November, you're going to go out, and you're going to vote and that's going to be the greatest vote you ever cast, okay? The vote was supposed to be on Tuesday, but now I can say: Stay home but get twice as many people in November, right?" The West Virginia Secretary of State did not agree and neither should you.

You also have the option, at least in states with open primaries, of voting in the Democratic race. If you have strong feelings for Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, you could cast your vote in that primary. Who you vote for is ultimately up to you, but honor democracy by going to the ballot box no matter what.