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Your vote matters: Why you should head to the polls on election day

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Editor's note: Election day is near, and if you haven't voted early, you have decisions ahead of you, not the least of which is whether to vote at all, as Josiah Hesse postulates in "Your vote doesn't matter: Why there are better things to do on election day." Hesse's colleague, Chris Utterback, takes the opposite position. Here are his thoughts.

When it comes to one person making a difference, it's true that neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama would stoop to pick up your vote -- or that of your friends, your family or your bowling league -- if they were all lying on the ground.

For the most part, with the Electoral College system we have in the United States, the impact of a solitary vote seems almost too pathetic to be funny.

But not always. Don't forget that Florida, and the entire 2000 election, was carried by 537 single votes -- 537 votes that even today are hotly contested. And that's why politicians in many states, including Colorado, have lined up to relentlessly purge voter rolls and mandate ID checks. They know well the power of a few votes.

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler has been at the forefront of this movement, as he has tried to ferret out a handful of illegal immigrants who may have voted in years past.

And then there was a syndicated op-ed by voter ID law pusher Hans von Spakovsky, who attributed a Missouri election decided by one vote to fifty Somalis fraudulently pulling the lever. An investigation by a judge, however, turned up not a single fraudulent vote.

But that won't stop people like von Spakovsky and Gessler from treating the act of voting as a privilege rather than a right.

That's why the simple act of going to the polls this year will make a statement against intimidation and obstruction. How sad the situation in our country is when voting itself becomes tantamount to an act of civil disobedience.

The people we're up against don't care that in five years of investigation by President Bush's Department of Justice, concrete evidence of true and willful fraud was scant. They don't care that federal court judges have repeatedly recorded their absolute befuddlement as to the purpose of this campaign against voting. (In Chicago, Diane P. Wood of the Seventh Circuit said, "I find this whole prosecution mysterious." The panel that struck down a voter-ID law in Texas said the law imposed "strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor.") They don't care that citizens are given the right to vote without intimidation or roadblocks.

Continue to read more reasons why your vote matters. And on November 6, many poll-going Coloradans will be voting under the steely eye of the True The Vote organization. While True The Vote's poll-watching vultures pose little more than a symbolic threat to voters, their self-imposed role as Glorious Defenders of Democracy is nauseating. And after election day, these folks will continue the cycle of self-perpetuation by turning in their records of "irregularities" -- gee, do you think they'd go home empty-handed? -- and yell 'Fraud!' all over again.

There is a way to combat this: Vote. If we the people -- young voters, old voters, minority voters, voters wearing white after Labor Day -- turn out to the polls in record numbers, we will change the dominant narrative in politics. We will show the Scott Gesslers and the True The Votes of this nation that their tactics will not intimidate us.

And let's not forget that there are actually other names under Obama and Romney on your ballot. One vote in hundreds of millions of national votes may just be a humble amoeba in the proverbial pond, but the smaller the election, the more weight one vote holds.

Take Colorado's second district, for example. With four candidates and a total of 390,759 registered voters, all closely divided between Democratic, Republican, and unaffiliated, the race for U.S. Congress between Jared Polis, the Democratic candidate, and Kevin Lundberg the Republican could be decided by a couple hundred votes. Suddenly, that bowling league of yours is looking like a legitimate voting bloc.

The local ballot issues, the mill-levies, the State house races: These are what really determine, county by county, how our state is run. And while we in Colorado undestand that those local races can be as vicious and cynical as any national election, your participation makes your voice louder than it ever could be in the national race, and helps grease the stubborn wheels of democracy.

Voting does indeed feel good. It feels good to be part of something, however small. And whether that's why you vote, or you just like that little sticker, it doesn't matter. Are Americans voting this year out of hate, out of fear, out of vanity? Yes, they may be. Because, like me, they are angry, scared and proud.

More from our Politics archive: "Bill Clinton on Romney strategy: 'I look like a president, I act like a president.... Elect me!'"

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