I've voted in every election I've been able to vote in, except one primary election (and I couldn't vote in partisan races, so it wasn't much of a loss), but have only been to the actual polls once. For some reason, I just prefer to get my ballot in my hot little hands, do my internet research, vote, and either mail back or drop off that little green envelope. I think even in the world of sample ballots and early voting, I just prefer the certainty of an absentee ballot, because I get time to deliberate before actually casting my vote with my actual ballot.
Now, I fully realize that voting absentee means that my vote will, more likely than not, not be counted at all. Typically, only people who vote the old-fashioned way are actually counted and calculated. They don't open those little green envelopes with "official election mail" unless they make a difference in the result. Absentee ballots are the "Senate President" of the American electoral system; they only have a vote that counts when it actually matters. Of course, that's also the silver lining: If it actually matters, then my vote counts that much more.
Well, when the returns come in on the night of the 4th, hope it's a landslide. Because, if it isn't, you're going to have me to thank for what you get.
However, as much as I enjoy being an absentee voter, I can't help but feel a little guilt. Campaigns make their big push to lead up to November 4. I know that, they know that. But since I vote early, I don't get the same impact that your typical voter gets.
With Presidential campaigns, I really don't care that much. I've pretty much decided who I'm voting for by the time I finish watching the third debate.
But every once in a while, it can bother me.
Today, I dropped off my ballot and, when I got home, I found a flyer from one of the candidates for my community development district at my door. Typically, I don't feel guilty about not reading campaign literature before I vote, but last night, as I was finalizing my ballot, I went online to research the candidates for this position. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of information about them, so I ended up googling them to find out anything I could about them.
In addition to finding what they said at prior development district meetings and who was an incumbent, I also learned who had other people make contributions to their campaigns, who was making personal loans to their own campaigns, who had printed flyers, who had grassroots campaign parties, and who did any number of other things with their money. So, when I read this flyer, I felt a little guilty knowing that this candidate paid his own money (since he was the only contributor to his shoe-string budget campaign) to make this flyer (at Kinko's---told you they're revealing in small campaigns---and, yes, I know which one) and likely personally put it on my door. Yet, I didn't read it before I cast my ballot.
Of course, after actually reading it, I realized it wouldn't have convinced me to vote for him.
So that helped assuage the guilt a little bit.