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10 Times TV & Movies Proved Your Vote Counts

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    The final stretch of the presidential election is wearing all of us down. All the news, ads, and rhetoric can sometimes have the opposite of its intended effect, making some people want to throw up their hands and decide to stay home on November 8.

    Please don't do that.

    If you don't want to take our word that your participation keeps democracy alive, how about the words of Jessie Spano, Olivia Pope, and Tracy Flick?

    TV and movies can't resist the natural drama of a good election. The clash of personalities! The speeches! The dirty machinations of the puppeteers behind the scenes!

    But there's also a serious message to be gleaned from movies like Election and very special episodes on every show from South Park to Black Mirror. Whether we're talking about elections for student council, the White House, or the British Parliament, the only way for little people to exercise their power — against billionaires or high school despots — is with their votes. Watch any of the following, and you, too, will feel fired up to fill out your own ballot.


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    Saved By The Bell, "The Election" (1989)
    Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) decides to run against Jessie (Elizabeth Berkley) for student council president, because he overhears Mr. Belding mention that the winner gets a free trip to Washington, D.C. Silly ads, false promises, and fake smear campaigns ensue.

    Vote-Counting Moment: Kelly (Tiffani Thiessen) represents the swing voter who keeps changing her mind between her friends. Because she can't decide, she writes in a vote for Gilligan, and wouldn't you know it, Zack wins by one vote. Fortunately for this tiny democracy — unlike any real-life government in history — the victor feels guilty about his motives and concedes to Jessie.

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    Election (1999)
    History teacher Jim (Matthew Broderick) encourages Paul (Chris Klein) to run against Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon), the ambitious overachiever who had an affair with a teacher the year before, costing him his job and marriage.

    Vote-Counting Moment:
    Paul is such a nice guy, he casts a vote for his opponent, and Tracy wins by that vote. Because Jim can't stand the thought of her winning, he disposes of two ballots and declares Paul the winner. Too bad the janitor discovers this scheme and Jim is forever disgraced.

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    Head Of State (2003)
    When a presidential and vice presidential candidate die in a plane crash, their party decides to pander to minorities by selecting a random politician, because they assume they'll lose the election anyway. But they underestimate the appeal of D.C. alderman Mays Gilliam (Chris Rock) and his running-mate brother (Bernie Mac).

    Vote-Counting Moment:
    Mays is a classic character, the everyman who fires up the disenfranchised — with his real-talk catchphrase, "That ain't right!" — and goes on to defeat the establishment. Sound familiar to anyone?

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    South Park, "Trapper Keeper" (2000)
    The episode title refers to the main plot, a Terminator-esque story about a Dawson's Creek Trapper Keeper that will one day destroy humanity, but the subplot is what matters here. Kyle's genius brother Ike runs for kindergarten class president against a kid named Filmore. This part written and made in the week after the 2000 presidential election, when Florida recount madness was just beginning.

    Vote-Counting Moment: The tied vote comes down to a sick girl named Flora (like Florida, get it?). Filmore's aunt, Rosie O'Donnell, comes to town with lawyers and media to protest the results. When the Trapper Keeper absorbs Rosie O'Donnell, it is sickened and then ultimately defeated.

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    How I Met Your Mother, "The Slutty Pumpkin" (2005),"The Slutty Pumpkin Returns" (2011)
    In 2001, Ted's (Josh Radnor) "hanging Chad" costume was still a relevant political joke that was good enough to catch the eye of the cute girl in the "slutty pumpkin" costume. Because he lost her number that year, he wears the hanging chad every year to the same party in hopes of meeting her again, which he does in 2011. When they do meet again, she's played by Katie Holmes, which of course, means she's not the Mother.

    Vote-Counting Moment:
    If the Florida debacle of 2000 had never happened, then Ted wouldn't have made this costume, and then he possibly would not have met this non-Mother and pined for her for so long. Okay, never mind, this probably doesn't really have any impact on his life or anyone else's in the long term.