The Master, Robert A. Heinlein once said, through his character Lazarus Long, " If you live in a society that votes, do so! If you don't have some one to vote for, you should have someone to vote against. If this doesn't work, find some well meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask who he supports, then vote the opposite. It satisfies your civic duty and you get to oppose someone you dislike. " Now I truly don't believe that this is the best philosophy, but I do believe that if you don't vote you have no legs to stand on when you don't like who wins. Since my 18th birthday I have only missed 2 election days. One because I was traveling and one because I completely forgot what day it was, ( and I was thinking about it all day while I worked!)
Now this leads me to a very important point that I would like to see addressed by our elected officials. I believe that election day should be moved to a weekend, be it Saturday or Sunday is no matter, but the other important point is this, It should also be a Mandatory Federal Holiday, meaning that NO business may be conducted while the polls are open. A system that works very well in most other democracies in the world. This means that no registered voter has an excuse other than being hospitalized or kidnapped. As the oldest democracy in the world we are faced with some of the lowest voter turnouts. Why? Because too many people think that either it doesn't affect them, or that their vote doesn't matter. This is often attributable to the television news. Exit polls are truly the most hurtful thing to a democracy, because people hear that so and so is in the lead or so far behind, and they guess that their vote won't make a difference. I say this from experience, because I have worked with people who have used this exact argument.
I believe in the Constitution and all of the rights and freedoms afforded us by this document, but I am a very firm believer that with these freedoms and rights comes a certain level of responsibility, that frankly hasn't been exercised in a few decades. The press has become worse than religious crusaders in dumping scandal and excess on the front page to be consumed with our morning cereal. The more seedy the story the bigger the typeface. Along with the rudeness of the pundits, and the ignorance of the populace in general, these things add up to cake and circuses. Some wise person many years ago said that," a democracy will stand until such time as the people realize that they have the power to vote themselves cake and circuses." For some reason I think it may have been Mark Twain, but I'm not sure. But the point that he was making is that people tend to vote in their own interest, rather than in the interest of the country as a whole. How human of us! The sad part is that Politicians have grabbed unto this fact with a vengance, and the pork barrel rolls happily along. This is the biggest problem with career politicians. This is why I truly believe that politicians should be picked just like jurors.
Now my second suggestion is to get rid of every type of voting machine, Touch screen, and punch card and go back to a simple #2 Pencil, and a sheet of paper. There are few democracies in the world that vote any other way. In the United States, every state has a different system, and there is no standard, except that they are all insecure. And since they are insecure they can't be fully trusted. A glass box with a slot in the top, and a voter with a paper ballot is the most trustable thing in the world. A simple column with a square box beside each name. A box for the party you wish to have your vote counted from, and an X in each appropriate box. It has worked for centuries, and as the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"
Our world is gonna change one way or the other. The best thing anyone can do is to educate themselves abot what and who they are voting for. ( or against!) but don't go simply by the rhetoric of the campaign, visit websites of the candidates, and the referendums, and read up on the issues. Don't fall for the Karl Rove Doctrine, which is that any lie repeated often enough will be taken as the truth. The best website to visit is factcheck.org they sift through all the crude and corruption and give you the truth from both sides of the fence. They are truly non-partisan and that is the best thing that one can hope for in a research organization.