Each time I say, "I'm not doing this again." And this time I meant it. I wasn't going to be sucked into choosing between Whitey McWhitebread and his brother Blanc. I wasn't going to vote.
And I wasn't just going to not vote. I was planning to head to the polling station bright and early, fresh-faced and eager, file in with all the responsible types and decisively play hacky sack until the poll closed.
But this round, I was tempted by a candidate I actually respect. The fact that I live five minutes from the polling station didn't hurt either. So I voted.
It wasn't because I think the system makes sense. I don't feel that someone in Vancouver or Moncton should care what I think about how they should live, or vice versa.
And I certainly didn't vote because of Liberal corruption.
If anything, the Liberals bucked the trend by cleaning house in public, and the idea that the Tories will be corruption-free under Harper is dubious.
Whenever people speak of Liberal corruption, all it amounts to is complaints about their lack of subtlety. After all, if they wanted to hand money over to the rich, there are established channels.
They could, for instance, just give out subsidies including indirect ones like infrastructure funding and lower coporate taxes.
We were supposedly going to the polls because of the sponsorship scandal. But what is the current economic system if not one giant sponsorship scandal? It seems we're always "voting for change," but most of us return the next day to a job we hate under the very same conditions as the day before.
So I didn't vote because I think it's my way to be heard.
The environment was not made an issue; neither was housing. Though "law and order" was reputed to be a major issue, there was little talk of how to make communities truly safer.
And in a campaign supposedly sparked by the issue of government accountability, discussion about the use of substantive public resources in the occupations of Haiti and Afghanistan was surprisingly lacking. Canada's position in negotiating various secret trade deals was not touched upon.
And don't even bother looking for mention on the national stage of the continued use of security certificates to detain people indefinitely without legal counsel or trial.
In other words, the many people to whom such issues actually matter will still have to hit the streets to be heard, whether they voted or not. So why vote?
During that walk to the polling station, I talked with someone who'd been thinking about the people the world over who would die or currently are dying for the chance to engage in this simple act that many of us dismiss out of hand.
My fellow reluctant voter felt motivated to respect their struggle.
Of course, this could be construed as justification for an undemocratic process.
And elections are not in themselves a sign of freedom. There was just an election in Iraq.
I don't blame anyone who doesn't vote because they think it's not worth their time. It may very well not be. I also see the utility that inflammatory exhortations to ignore the ballot can have in widening the rare nationwide political discourse that happens around election time.
But I have less and less patience with those who think not voting is a political act.
In the hall of mirrors that is electoral politics, not to vote is simply to stare into a different mirror and pretend it matters. No one cares if you don't vote. As usual, our new government was elected with support from just over one-third of eligible voters.
Those who are hardest set against voting also tend to be from progressive and radical camps. Imagine if all those people got out and voted.
Of course, in the greater context of a global economy, the immediate impact the NDP could have is negligible.
But the difference between something like subsidized daycare and Harper's insulting bribe of $1,200 a year for families (about $4.60 a day) could very well be one of those things that, decades down the road, changes the course of history because it cumulatively changed the course of millions of people's daily lives.
Let's take advantage of the minority government to help make such things happen.