Controversial fact: I did not vote in the first election that was open to me. The year I turned 18, it was exactly one month before either George W. Bush would remain the president of the United States. Or the Democratic leader, John Kerry, would be voted into that spot.
Now, as a previous non-voter, I will tell you why I didn't exercise my right to vote: I was raised in a conservative, Republican household, and I had just discovered my leanings were liberal Democratic, but I was also discovering that people are fallible. No one is perfect. Yet people were practically yelling at me that I should vote and where I should put that vote. It's hard enough to experience the constant hormonal uproar and existential crisis that is being an 18-year-old girl, but adding on top of that was everyone telling me that my one vote could change the course of our country.
Here is the scenario I had in my head for weeks:
OFFICIAL VOTE COUNTER: The race is tied! Only one vote will determine this election, and it is KC Ryan's! We know it's anonymous, but we know everything! Because we're the government! With this ballot, she will determine who becomes the next president of the United States!
Six Months Later, America is on fire, people are screaming, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.
OFFICIAL VOTE COUNTER: KC RYAN RUINED EVERYTHINNNNNNG!
Yes, that scenario is wildly illogical and overblown. But no one seemed to be aware that I was prone to stress and panic attacks. So I curled up in a fetal ball and didn't vote.
I fully admit that I should have voted when I had the chance. However, I can understand why some people don't vote. There's a lot of non-voter shame, especially telling, "If you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain." Whenever I hear that, I can't help but think of George Carlin's bit about how he didn't vote. He had an understanding of how the government worked, and he had a severe distrust of politicians. And from my point of view, if people are fallible, that means that I could be misplacing my vote with the wrong person despite the promises a political party has given me. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but rather that I understand it. This is from someone who almost threw up while watching a documentary about the campaign for Texas State Representative.
Years after avoiding the Kerry vs. Bush election, I used my first vote for Barack Obama. Mind you, I still have a strong distrust in politicians--I personally believe that our best president would be a robot that based decisions on unbiased statistics and can parse the Constitution and its laws into understandable binary. On the other hand, I realize that this government is not perfect, but it is trying. And even though I am a small voice that must join others to be heard, I am more secure in my beliefs without the noise of others. I still have major anxiety over politics, but I also have anxiety over cleaning my apartment. It's gotta be done at some point.
Congratulations, everyone. Whether you voted or not, we made it through one of the worst election years I have ever experienced. I am terrified. Let's all take a nap.
P.S. I finally got this stupid "I Voted" sticker after voting in three elections. I had to take it myself. I KNOW MY RIGHTS, GIVE ME MY STICKER!
KC Ryan is an improv graduate turned Sketch Writing Level 2 student. When she’s not working at the day job, she is a writer and podcaster for everything that combines feminism, comedy, theatre, and nerdery. She also performs in the puppet improv troupe Empty Inside.