A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 08, 2014
“If you don’t vote, don’t complain”

"If you don’t vote, don’t complain” is an old political saying that has been cited in print since at least 1927, but appears to have been popularized in the 1940s. “If you don’t vote today, don’t complain tomorrow” was cited in 1940. “If you don’t vote tomorrow, don’t complain thereafter” was cited in 1942. “If you don’t vote, don’t complain when the result is announced” was cited in 1947.

The word order is sometimes switched. “Don’t complain if you don’t vote” was cited in 1948.


Old Fulton NY Post Cards
25(?) December 1927, California Eagle (Los Angeles, CA), “Colored Non-Partisan League Extends Season’s Greetings,” Xmas Edition, pg. 8, col. 4:
If you don’t vote, don’t complain.

6 November 1940, Seattle (WA) Times, pg. 7, col. 2:
Hans Evers, who has been selling The Times in the business district for the past twenty-three years, did his non-partisan bit yesterday toward getting out the vote. “Go to the polls and vote,” was his cry. “Vote as you please, but please vote. If you don’t vote today, don’t complain tomorrow.”

9 March 1942, Seattle (WA) Daily Times, pg. 6, col. 1 editorial:
If You Don’t Vote Tomorrow,
Don’t Complain Thereafter


4 January 1947, The Progress (Cleerfield, PA), “Now Is Time To Vote For War Memorial” by W. J. Thomas, pg. 1, col. 1:
If you don’t vote, don’t complain when the result is announced.

25 October 1948, Sacramento (CA) Bee, pg. 3, col. 6:
Don’t complain if you don’t vote.

10 September 1951, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, pg. A1, bottom banner:
If you lost your vote you would complain—don’t complain if you don’t vote.

1 November 1953, Ames (IA) Daily Tribune, “Down in the Pit” by Sandy, pg. 8, col. 8:
Didja notice that sign over on main street. It says “If you don’t vote, Don’t complain.” Just in case, tomorrow is the day we vote.

26 June 1964, Greensboro (NC) Daily News, pg. A19, col. 1 ad:
Don’t complain about your government over the next four years, if you don’t vote.
(Greensboro Political Action Committee.—ed.)

16 May 1966, Greensboro (NC) Daily News “Public Pulse,” pg. A8, col. 5:
If you vote, complain; if you don’t vote, don’t complain.
W. G. TAYLOR
Greensboro.

5 November 1967, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, pg. 8-F, col. 1 editorial:
If You Don’t Vote
Don’t Complain


27 October 1968, Springfield (MA) Union, “Have You Decided Not To Vote?” by Fred Blumenthal, Parade magazine, pg. 9, col. 1:
if you don’t vote, don’t complain about the outcome.

Google Books
July 1977, Ebony magazine, pg. 97 ad:
Don’t Vote...Then Don’t Complain.
(The advertisement is from the Gulf Oil Corporation.—ed.)

Google Books
A Maze of Grace:
A Memoir of Second Chances

By Trish Ryan
New York, NY: FaithWords
2010
Pg. ?:
(Were I the bumper sticker type, my car would no doubt have sported one of those caustic Don’t Vote? Don’t Complain! reminders that come out every four years.)

Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, IA)
September 8, 2014
Take the time to vote on Cedar Falls referendum
(...)
Make the effort on this important referendum. Whether it is a yes or a no vote, remember the old adage—if you don’t vote, don’t complain.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Monday, September 08, 2014 • Permalink