Voting is important—to politicians, because it gives them a sense of validation. Good-government types like the whole balloting ritual, too, because they get warm fuzzies from seeing others invest time and energy into the institution that defines so much of their sense of self-worth. That's why you'll be endlessly nagged—and even receive implied threats—to drive you to punch your card, fill in the oval, or tap the screen for the candidate who disgusts you least. But in terms of influencing government officials, grimly performing what others insist is a duty every couple of years and then (with good reason) bitching about the outcome isn't the last word in civic participation.
If you want to keep politicians on their toes, writes J.D. Tuccille, you should "vote" to embarrass officials, free prisoners, and carve out areas of life beyond state control.