Several days before the election, I saw a photo pop up in my Facebook news stream. It was a photo of a woman burning her ballot at Occupy Portland’s #N3 Resist Austerity protest.

Portlander burns her ballot during the November 3rd Resist Austerity event.
Ballot-burning at Occupy Portland's Resist Austerity protest on November 3rd. Photo by Benji Vương.

I think this is ridiculously short-sighted and altogether ineffective. I say this as an Occupier. I say this as someone who is also rather disenchanted with the state of our political system. I say this as someone working for change, both through activism and voting. There are so many things on that ballot, ranging from national down to very, very local. Even if you feel you can’t trust any of the politicians (to which I say, “Really? Not even a write-in?”) to all of the things on that ballot are politicians. Some are issues which directly affect you and those you love.

Adam poses with his ballot on the way to the ballot drop box.

All you achieve by burning that ballot and removing yourself from the voting process is the fact that those in power no longer have to concern themselves with you. You do nothing to change OR destroy the system you dislike. I’m all for symbolic gestures, but not when the symbolic gesture takes the place of actually doing something, which I feel this does.The biggest problem with our electoral system is NOT the voting. That’s not how we’re controlled and manipulated. Voting is effective, even if you’re just a drop in the sea. But it’s not enough. The problem with the system – how we’re manipulated – is that people think you can STOP at voting. We’re made to believe that voting is the extent of how involved we can get. It’s just the start.

So I really hope these people are doing a LOT, because all they’ve done here is remove the most base, simple way of being involved. No one should ever stop at just that level, but I feel that deciding not to vote at all is irresponsible. Please vote. It’s easy. Vote, then stay involved, stay active, and don’t let those in power ignore you.


My friend, Robert Jones, made a great video on this subject, as well. I’ve embedded it below for your convenience.

Writer. Actor. Director. Chalk artist. YouTuber. Nerdfighter. Traveler. Pansexual. Genderfluid. Millennial. Socialist. Living a complex life beyond those words.

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