Most of what I want to say, I've already said, as far back as 1999, and added to this LJ in 2003. So, for the important stuff, take a look at this entry.
Last yearFour years ago, the voting was a statistical dead heat, and in some states, the margin between the two main candidates was smaller than the number of votes garnered by the third-party candidates. This year, it looks to be much the same situation - which makes it more important than ever to make your voice heard. Most of the choices available are less than satisfactory - but even so, you can make a difference by voting. So go ahead and do it. Then, tomorrow, complain loud and long about the crappy choices you were offered, and keep complaining. But go to the polls and pull that lever, if for no other reason than to show that you care about how your country is governed.
A lot of people complained about the outcome of the election, because the winner of the electoral vote - the only vote that counts, in the final analysis - was NOT the winner of the popular vote. Don't blame the courts that ended up deciding the validity of the Florida election; blame the state legislatures. As long as a state's electoral votes are allocated on a winner-take-all basis, rather than apportioned on the basis of the popular vote in that state, it will be possible for an election to be won with less than 25% of the popular vote.
A few states - Maine, Nebraska, and perhaps Colorado beginning with this election - allocate their electoral votes on the basis of the local popular vote by Congressional district, but most states use a winner-take-all system. It's the winner-take-all system that's the killer; all a candidate needs to do is take half the vote (more correctly, one vote more than half) in the smallest states so that electoral votes add up to the 270 needed to win - and in the remaining states, the popular vote can be unanimously against that candidate, and that candidate will still win. Do the math, and you'll see that this means that the popular vote can be just under 75% against the candidate that wins - and he'll still win. And that assumes that each electoral vote represents the same number of popular voters - an assumption that is patently false; the lower-population states have disproportionate power in the Electoral College, because of the interaction of the guarantees of one Representative in the House, plus two Senators, and the cap on the size of the House.
Sounds unfair? It's one of the compromises that made this country work, in the beginning. But it can be changed, because the method of selecting the electors and allocating them to a candidate is left to the state's discretion. That means that the state doesn't need Federal permission to decide to allocate their electoral votes by district. They don't even need Federal permission to say "OK, the State Legislature is going to decide how the electoral vote in this state is allocated", ignoring the popular vote (which must still be held; that is a Constitutional matter). So, go read up on how the Electoral College works, and then educate your friends and neighbors, so that you can get your state legislature to change how your state's electoral votes are allocated. Because while district-apportioned electoral votes aren't a panacea, they're far more likely to bring about a fair result.