While it seems that the inefficiency of the DC Board of Elections will inhibit my ability to participate in the elections process this year, I hope any American with an ability will embrace the opportunity which our Founding Fathers (and a few Constitutional amendments) granted them to vote. All elections are important, and not participating, even if that participation is limited to thoughtfully considering just why it is that you are choosing to abstain from the process, is unfair to those who fought for those rights.
Nonetheless, I really don't believe that this 'is the most important election of our lifetimes'. I think that is a lot of nonsense. For all of the bluster and partisanship, for all the red-faced exhortations of talking heads, there is not too much that President Obama II or New President Romney would do differently from each other in a lot of key situations.
In addition, most of their 'scariest' traits will likely go unrecognized, checked by legislators, polling, or even just common sense. For example, in a few cases that people often cite as fear factors, it is highly unlikely that Romney will be able to 'get rid of abortion and women's rights' just like it is highly unlikely that Obama will be able to 'get rid of guns and freedom' (then again...).
More importantly, both will likely continue the unceasing march toward a police state straight out of an Orwellian nightmare, foreign intervention without public support and fundraising from the deepest pockets. Neither will do much about the environment, or gay equality, or cutting the deficit or stopping the spread of communism (oops...went back a few elections...sorry about that). Both are rich guys, with only the lip service they pay on the matter varying in any significant manner.
Maybe the above is a bit facetious as there are of course some differences. If you are a gun-toting Christian in the upper 53% of incomes in the country who hates abortion, loves security and hates the taxation it requires to get there, vote for Mitt Romney. If you love the uncontrolled flow of illegal immigrants into the country, abortions for all, and uncontrolled spending, vote for Barack Obama. Likewise, if you love cars and hate foreign investment, Obama; if you hate unions and love capitalism, Romney.
Unless, that is, you can recognize that those are just un-nuanced generalizations driven in part by primary-driven politics, in which case you should just look at the points on police states, foreign policy and crony capitalism above. If you don't mind those things, just throw a dart between those two on your ballot and call it a day.
However, there are much more dramatic alternatives available as well; alternatives that, while not a part of the 'serious' conversation, seem to line up much better with the politics of many Americans than anyone with a D or an R hanging around their necks. There are Constitutionalists, Socialists (real ones, not the Obama kind), Greens and Libertarians on ballots in many states, and some of these candidates even have enough ballot access to win, if only technically. That voting for such alternatives is seen as a 'throw away' vote is a sad commentary on the state of the republic.
If such candidates represent your views, vote for them. Force the Federal Elections Commission to notice. Help increase access to ballots and debates. Change the focus of the discussion when it comes to representation in the US.
Yes, my fellow Americans, avoid atrophy in the democratic process and vote. But also avoid atrophy in the republic itself and vote for the candidate who most closely represents your values. If that candidate happens to Romney or Obama, please do ignore my sarcasm above. It was for purposes of making a point, and there are of course, some Americans who may be best represented by one of those two.
But to those who haven't settled on one of those two for this cycle, I would implore you to at least take the time to educate yourselves to the alternatives. And to all Americans today and in the future, I would implore you to educate yourselves, not only on the candidates themselves, but also on the system which has implemented itself. Anything else is a vote for continuing the infernal rift which is currently tearing America apart, individual by individual, state by state, election by election...