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I have a red white and blue “Vote For Mayor McCheese” election button.  I picked it up in April at the PAC booth of the McDonald’s worldwide convention. The primaries weren’t even over yet, but the discontent of the nation on this current election cycle was palpable.

Normally a Mayor McCheese button would amuse me, but this time, I was ridiculously excited about the prospect of wearing it. It represented a candidate I could get behind – myself.  It stands for the idea that I do not have to settle and check a box for someone I do not believe in.

I've heard the argument from both sides of the political spectrum that by writing in a vote, I'm "throwing my vote away" and "writing in a vote is the same as voting for the other party." Both Trump and Clinton supporters have presented me with the same argument.

I'm not buying it.

It is my duty as an American citizen to vote my conscience. Maybe some of you reading this have already decided to stay home on November 8, and that by abstaining from voting, it is the same as voting against both candidates. This is not true: abstention is not the same as dissenting.

I attend monthly board meetings and the occasional town hall meeting. Sometimes when a vote comes to the table, people will abstain, believing that they are sending a message. Without fail, an abstention gets lost in the din of yes votes. Now compare that to a no vote. No votes, even when cast unsuccessfully, speak volumes. People in the room notice when someone votes no.

A write-in vote at the polls is your no Vote.  It’s your voice in the din of "yes."

At a political round table discussion in mid September, I was the only person in the room not casting a vote for Hillary Clinton. It was an interesting discussion filled with lament about the current state of our political system and concern for the future of our country. heard the phrase "lesser of two evils" more than once, and some people at the table admitted to casting a vote in the primary for someone other than Hillary.

If we are describing our candidates as evil, then it is our duty to speak out against them. We should never settle for a candidate that not only do we not trust, but actually believe to be a bad person.

I began my comments at the round table discussion by telling the room that I am filled with hope. Even after listening to the others voice their concern for the people of our nation for more than two hours, I maintain that hope.

Hope is what keeps me from voting for the Giant Meteor of Death currently making a strong showing in the polls. This country is ready for a change. We the people are ready for better candidates and better compromises from those who wish to lead us. We are not a country of polarized people unable to respect each other and work together.

Thirteen people I barely know treated me, the only conservative in the room, with kindness, and listened while I explained that I could not reasonably support their candidate. While I recognize that there is no third party candidate with the ability to be elected in November, I do know that if a large portion of the population refuses to cast a vote for either candidate, the country, and our politicians, will notice.

A referendum on the candidates needs to be good enough this time around. So I urge you, friends and fellow citizens, vote your consciences.

— Kristen Marie Fraser is a local McDonald’s Franchisee and businesswoman living in York. She is a member of the York Dispatch community advisory board.

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