Its around this time of the election year (and over and over throughout the years) that I hear the common refrain of "your vote doesn't matter" (especially in a decidedly "blue" state like Illinois). Yes, I understand the mathematics of how one vote out of 100 million will not make a dent in the outcome. But I don't believe that means you shouldn't vote.
Jim Crow laws promoted racial segregation across the South for almost 100 years. One reason for their existence was that the same politicians were elected into office year after year. There was nothing shady about this, they were legitimately elected. The problem was that those who would vote to change the laws had no vote. From Wikipedia:
...the establishment Democrats were passing laws to make voter registration and electoral rules more restrictive, with the result that political participation by most blacks and many poor whites began to decrease. Between 1890 and 1910, ten of the eleven former Confederate states, starting with Mississippi, passed new constitutions or amendments that effectively disfranchised most blacks and tens of thousands of poor whites through a combination of poll taxes, literacy and comprehension tests, and residency and record-keeping requirements. Grandfather clauses temporarily permitted some illiterate whites to vote.
Voter turnout dropped drastically through the South as a result of such measures.
...Those who could not vote were not eligible to serve on juries and could not run for local offices. They effectively disappeared from political life, as they could not influence the state legislatures, and their interests were overlooked.
Many of the arguments justifying voting tend towards a philosophical call to duty. But here is a concrete example from our country's history of how significant voting is. Regardless of whether people can't vote (due to unjust voter registration laws) or won't vote (due to voter apathy), the impact on the ballot is the same.
Voting is not actually a Constitutional right, so it is up to us to protect it. Without a vote, without that voice, we stand to lose a lot.