If you live in the U.S., chances are that for the past two years you’ve been bombarded by non-stop talk about the upcoming Presidential election. As Nov. 8 approaches, the speculation will only increase.

Given this constant stream of punditry and awkward dinner conversations, it’s easy to wish for the whole ordeal to be over. You might be feeling the desire to disengage from it all. You may have even contemplated not voting.

“Besides, what difference does one vote make?” you might ask. “I don’t even like any of the candidates.”

The idea is tempting, but I urge you not to give in. As a college student, you’re facing your first presidential election. This is a big deal. Here’s why you ought to vote:

1) Your vote actually does make a difference. This presidential election is historic because it has upended conventional notions of which states will come into play in the electoral college vote. Looking beyond the presidency, you’ll have many state and local elections to decide on. You have the most direct impact on these elections, which are sometimes won by fewer than ten votes.

2) A protest vote is more meaningful than an abstention. It’s common sense that politicians need people to vote for them to get elected. Because of this, they’ll cater to the electorate, exchanging policies for votes. If you opt out of this election, you opt out of their political calculus. They have no reason to enact the policies you want.

Furthermore, the margin of victory the winner receives is indicative of how much the public trusts them. If you don’t vote, you run the risk of having an unpalatable candidate win by a large margin, thereby securing a “mandate” with which to enact his or her policies.

Don’t let people convince you that your write-in vote for your next-door neighbor is a waste: you’re altering the margin of victory for the winner.

Both of these considerations make it in your best interest to cast your vote, whether it’s for president or for dog catcher, federal senator or state legislator. Don’t let the 24/7 news cycle make you lose sight of what’s really important.  Exercise your political autonomy. Affirm your preferences, send a message to the opposition. Make your voice heard.

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