Does It Matter That I Didn't Vote? Yes, Because The Electors Answer To Your Vote

DURHAM, N.C - NOVEMBER 8: Early morning voters try to make their way inside a voting precinct to get out of the cold temperatures on November 8, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Precincts are expected to be crowded across the battleground state. Citizens of the United States will choose between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as they pick their choice for the next president of the United States. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
Source: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images News/Getty Images

One benefit of this election is that it's brought the American democratic system into focus like never before. Everyone knows about the Electoral College and the electors who take part, and everyone knows that the popular vote and the electoral vote don't always correlate. Another thing that's gotten a lot of attention is the issue of voter participation, and the fact that only about a third of the country actually voted in the 2016 election. If you're thinking that it doesn't matter if you didn't vote, though, you're absolutely wrong.

The electors will gather on Monday, Dec. 19 to cast their votes, and they've been getting an extraordinary amount of attention. Yes, faithless electors could still change the results of the election, and the founding fathers did put the Electoral College in place to act as an intermediary between the people and government power. This election in particular, perhaps, is a moment when the electors should "vote their consciences" and move to elect someone besides Donald Trump as president. But for all the fervor and the Republican electors claiming that they won't vote for Trump, chances are minuscule that enough electors would defect to actually make a difference.

What could have made a difference, on the other hand, was your vote. As you've no doubt heard before, Clinton lost Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania by just less than 108,000 votes combined. If 108,000 sensible people across those three states had considered what the threat that Donald Trump's election to the presidency meant and gone to vote for his opponent, the Electoral College vote would be getting no headlines at all. It would have been a clean victory for Clinton, with the electoral and the popular votes reflecting each other and no one claiming that the electors should do anything other than what they promised when they took the job.

Remember — despite all of this talk, there have only been 157 faithless electors in American history. The electors, by an exceedingly large majority, listen to the will of the people — just like they're supposed to do, just like the system is supposed to work. Now, even though the system is facing an unprecedented threat in Trump, at least 270 Republican electors will almost certainly do what the people say they wanted. Remember this in future elections when you're deciding whether or not to vote. If you had made your voice heard, maybe there would be no reason to talk about faithless electors at all.

The important thing is that no matter how things go on Dec. 19, your vote always matters, Electoral College system or no. The system may have an intermediary, but it still rests on the voice of the people. Use the voice that the American democracy gives you and vote.

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