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Columns

February 1, 2008

Why I'm voting on Tuesday

This Tuesday, I'll vote in a presidential primary for the first time.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that.

I've had five other chances to vote in a primary, and, for a variety of reasons, I didn't.

This year is different. The stakes are high, the choices are good, and the New York primary might actually make a difference.

In fact, Super Tuesday has never been so super. This Tuesday, voters in more than 20 states "" twice as many as in 2004 "" will cast ballots in primaries and caucuses. Because so many states, including New York, moved up their primaries with the goal of having a greater influence on the election, Super Tuesday is also happening earlier than usual, so it matters more. This is especially true when there's not only no incumbent, but also no definitive front-runner in either of the major parties.

Primary voting doesn't get more exciting or important than this.

___

There are lots of reasons why I've never voted in a presidential primary.

The system we use to elect a president is complicated, and that's intimidating.

It's hard enough to understand how the Electoral College works, and, with different rules for each party and each state, the primaries are even more complex. How many people know the difference between caucuses and primaries? Proportional and winner-takes-all representation? Superdelegates and regular delegates?

My vote won't make a difference.

This may have actually been true, in cases such as the 2000 presidential election, when the New York primary was held late enough not to matter much. By the time New York held its primaries on March 7, George W. Bush and Al Gore were already well on their way toward securing the nominations of their respective parties.

I don't like any of the choices.

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