Why I didn’t vote in the midterm elections

Hatchet File Photo
Hatchet File Photo
Updated: Nov. 7, 2014 at 4:56 p.m.

Robin Jones Kerr, a senior majoring in journalism, is The Hatchet’s opinions editor.

For most of the day Tuesday, I felt like there was a big test that I hadn’t studied for. And what’s worse – it seemed everyone else had been preparing for weeks.

The whole day and into the night, I dreaded the inevitable question from friends, family, coworkers and professors – did I vote?

(No.)

(I didn’t.)

I hadn’t voted in the midterms and, actually, had barely followed the congressional and gubernatorial campaigns. When my friends got outraged at the closeness of the Virginia congressional race – “538 said Warner would win it in a landslide!” – I nodded along and feigned dismay, and pretended to know which candidates were Democrats and which were Republicans.

It’s great so many students on this campus care about politics, and it’s especially great that so many of us millennials – a demographic often maligned for its low voter turnout rates – headed to the polls or ensured we got our absentee ballots nice and early.

But in the end, I’m glad social pressure didn’t get me to vote.

Now, I would never tell a well-educated, politically active citizen to stay home on Election Day. But personally, just for myself, I felt OK about it. This year, nothing in particular compelled me to head to the polls – not a dynamic candidate nor compelling issue. And if I had voted just for the sake of being able to brag about it, that would have felt insincere.

In 2012, I made sure to vote because I was jazzed to help guarantee President Barack Obama a second term in office. Truth be told, I mailed my absentee ballot the morning of Election Day and I’m not even sure it counted, in the end. But I didn’t care, because to me, it was largely symbolic, and I was satisfied.

I’m registered to vote in Michigan, but only because that’s where my family lives. I grew up overseas, so I’m not really invested in Michigan politics and can’t even name our senators. (But I do know my mom curses at Terri Lynn Land every time she sees a lawn sign with her name on it, so I know we’re happy about that particular race, I guess?)

Sure, maybe I should have registered in D.C. I’ve at least followed the mayoral election here, though mostly because I’m a Hatchet staffer. But when I saw Muriel Bowser, the Democratic nominee for mayor and eventual victor, speak on campus last semester, I found myself not really liking her as a person. (Sorry, Muriel.) So a desire to vote for her didn’t drive me to the polls, either.

So shame me all you want, but I stand by my decision. When you talk about getting out the vote, it’s not me you’re talking about.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly referred to the close race between Mark Warner and Ed Gillespie as a governor’s race. It was a race to represent Virginia in the Senate. We regret this error.

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