(This article was written during the presidential campaign of 2012)

The election will soon be upon us, and the gods of statistics have declared that a once-in-a-blue-moon event is about to happen: my vote will actually matter!  Having spent my entire life living in states where presidential elections were decided before they began, I have grown accustomed to performing my pilgrimage to the presidential polls as a civic duty, a metaphorical declaration of my belief in freedom, justice, and the American way…but not as an action that would actually help decide who led the country.

But hey, I live in Virginia now, and the pundits have declared God’s truth from every mountaintop: My vote matters!  In fact, every night I can turn on the news and get an updated assessment on just how much it matters.  Romney gained a three point lead in Carolina?  Wow, only 6 states left!  Is Florida in Obama’s pocket? Down to 5!

Scientists claim that everything revolves around the sun, but we in Virginia know the truth: it revolves around us

So since all the candidates are desperately trying to win my favor right now, I thought I’d post a few guidelines for them:

1) DON’T call me at all hours of the day and night to ask who I’m voting for.  Or to tell me who I should vote for.  Or to explain why I should be terrified that the other candidate might win.  Believe me, it doesn’t matter how nice the callers are, or if they attempt to engage me in friendly conversation before they get to the point of the call.  By the time I’ve received my tenth political call of the day, those things only make it worse.

And no, alas, I am not exaggerating about the ten calls a day.

2) STOP trying to appeal to my womanhood. Here I am trying to figure out how much recent statistical criticisms  of the unemployment polling should impact my view of the economy, and reading foreign newspapers  on the internet  so I can get a well-rounded view of the crisis in Libya, and there you are on TV, repeating the word “education” over and over and over again like a mantra, because the experts have told you that it’s the issue  women care about.  Seriously, the next time you start rambling on about free birth control, I will change the channel.

Yes, education matters.  So do a thousand other things. I care about them all.

….No, that’s a lie.  I really don’t care about the free birth control that much.

3) DON’T abuse the internet.  Yes, it’s a great way to reach people.  Yes, modern tracking cookies can tell you that I live in a swing state, and belong to a demographic that is likely to vote, and possess the gender that will decide the election (sorry, guys),  so you have the ability to run an ad every single time I go to watch a video, and arrange for popups to fill my screen every time I open a browser.  The same ads. The same popups.  Last night I was looking for some old TV clips on Youtube, and wound up having to sit through the same political spiel at least 20 times.  Do you have any idea how much I am coming to hate the sound of your candidate’s voice?

So how should you win my favor?  I can’t answer for anyone else, but as far as I am concerned….leave me alone.  Let me sleep late if I want to, without the phone waking me up at the crack of dawn to answer a survey. Let me spend a quiet evening at home, without someone calling every ten minutes to ask what party I belong to. Let me choose for myself which political issues I want to focus on.  Respect me for my opinion, not my gender.  Respect my privacy.  Respect the value of my time.

Those things matter. They matter a lot.

Just like Virginia matters.