My first vote came in November of 1972 and I jumped at the chance. I had just turned 22. Four years earlier, during the elections in 1968, I was a US Marine in Vietnam and was unable to vote. At that time, voting age was 21, so I was old enough to fight for our country, but not old enough to vote for the person actually responsible for determining my actions.

Don’t get me wrong; I enlisted knowing full well I’d probably be going to Vietnam. I was happy when the voting age was lowered because I thought it was right. I gladly voted in 1972 and haven’t missed a Presidential election since. I’ve only missed a few mid-term elections.

I’ve seen a lot during those 5+ decades on the election front. I remember Ronald Reagan’s comment that Socialism is only a generation away (true) and, most recently, both major parties are saying the other party will never be voted out if they win this one (false over the last 12 years but debatable). After leaving the military, I’ve worked on campaigns for candidates, volunteered as a poll greeter for candidates and causes, and volunteered with advocacy groups to get out the vote. I’ve knocked on doors and spoken to groups for my choice of candidates.

Recently, I’ve heard from some saying it’s pointless to go vote. They think their vote doesn’t count. Let me assure you that every vote counts! I’ve seen elections decided by just a couple of votes. There have been many elections that have been too close to call, even if some network or other calls it for one candidate when the other candidate wins when all the votes are counted. Sometimes it’s so close that a recount is required to determine the winner.

This year, the sides are so diverse, the issues so polarizing that it almost requires everyone to stand on a side. Determining which side should be easy. Capitalism or Socialism. Law and order or chaos and anarchy. Constitutionality or authoritarianism. There are other issues on the ballot as well. The choices should seem obvious to you. If they don’t, you should wake up, pay attention (usually signified by listening more and talking less) and do actual research. Then ask questions. Do not let the media do the thinking for you. Think for yourselves.

Edmund Burke once said, ” Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little”. Keep these words in mind. You have a voice. Use it! When you vote, you use that voice in the loudest means possible! To do less could be your greatest mistake!