I don't understand why people think an individual vote changes anything. I don't mean this as an insult, I just don't understand by what mechanism my vote matters. To be clear, I am not saying you shouldn't vote, simply that one persons vote is a neutral act.
I assume that if I vote in an election my vote will literally be counted; the votes for one candidate will go from 100,000 to 100,001. In tiny elections, it is possible, not likely, for a single vote to change a result. However, arguing for a system from its top 0.1% best case scenario is a bit disingenuous. In 99.9% of elections, it does not come down to one vote.
I have also been told I should just choose the candidate that is closest to my beliefs or even put in a blank ballet. In the US, a 3rd-party candidate will not win any non-local election; in other countries, I understand that it is different, but I can't speak from personal experience. And its not like I would ever choose any of the main party candidates; some are much worse than others, but none represent my beliefs. My understanding of this idea is that what is being valued is the performance of representation, not my actual representation in the system. 'The medium is the message', or who you vote for does not matter, what matters is that you vote.
I've heard people say something to the effect of 'if you don't vote, you have no right to complain about the political system'. This idea ignores the fact that not voting is an explicitly political act. I am engaging with the system by refusing to play what I perceive to be a rigged game.
But its not like the political system changes whether I vote or not; its not like anyone can know if I voted or not, unless I tell them or wear one of those 'I voted' stickers. I've heard people argue that if everyone thought this way, then the OTHER SIDE would win. But other people's decision to vote or not isn't my responsibility.
Is there something I am missing?
I changed my formatting to be more clear and edited the text, as a few responses seem to have missed some of my points.