You can not vote and still complain. But vote anyway.

On Primary Day earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke briefly to reporters about the importance

On Primary Day earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke briefly to reporters about the importance of voting — a topic dear to my heart.

He said: “Cuomo’s fifth rule of politics is, ‘If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain later on.’ . . . And obviously nobody wants to give up their right to complain. So if you don’t want to give up the right to complain, then go vote.”

I’ve always hated this pithy line of thinking. In fact, there’s a reason people don’t vote — and it goes beyond mere petulance.

OK, of course a lot of voters are fashionably impossible to please. And our state should encourage voting by passing automatic registration, implementing no-excuse early voting, and fully funding and staffing elections administration.

Furthermore, New York needs to push for federal abolition of the Electoral College to make every vote for president actually count.

All that being said, Gov. Cuomo should remember this: Many Americans choose not to vote because they feel the system — which he is a part of — is rigged against them.

Truth be told, I have the same feeling. Our system is flawed, dysfunctional and in many ways anti-democratic. But I still vote, and think you should too — even if you’re not utterly galvanized.

So let me make the case for voting in a way that doesn’t publicly shame the non-involved.

First, politics has more of a role in our lives than most people appreciate.

Everything you earn, everything you spend, everything you own and everything you do is affected in some way by the way in which government chooses to be (or not be) involved. Opportunities are created (and doors are closed) because of government action or inaction. Rights are recognized or denied because of what Albany decides.

Those decisions are made by people that, at the end of the day, we elect. And all that opting out of the political system does is create space for those who want to participate — i.e., powerful lobbyists, special interests and wealthy donors.

What about those passionate purists who don’t believe the two-party system accurately represents their views? It may be tempting to make a statement by staying home.

But when you send no message, none is received. The country didn’t move left during the Bush administration — it moved right, and lived under right-wing policies all the while. The reverse has happened under the Obama administration, to conservatives’ chagrin.

Bottom line: You don’t move the ball closer to the goal by leaving the field. So if you absolutely have to, vote third party. Our first-past-the-post system means third parties screw with election outcomes, but it’s better than staying silent.

With all this in mind, politicians should take low turnout to mean the public rejects them and the way they do business. In fact, they should view everyone who stays home on Election Day as casting a vote of no-confidence.

Unfortunately, politicians take low turnout to mean that they can keep on doing what they’re doing. And they’re right!

As long as they can keep on winning, they can keep on doing what they wish. So get informed and vote!

So here’s my beef with the “Cuomo rule”: Even if after my fantastic case, you don’t go to the polls, your right to complain about the outcome isn’t contingent on having voted.

If Cuomo said “you shouldn’t complain” if you didn’t vote, then fine. After all, abstaining does make it harder to be taken seriously when you later complain.

But “losing your right” to complain in the first place? I know it’s to some extent a figure of speech. And I know it’s an old saying handed down from the elder Cuomo.

He’s not literally suggesting that those who don’t vote ought to have their rights curtailed.

But even the idea that not voting delegitimizes the right to be critical of government is a huge misunderstanding of what civil society is all about: Our rights are inherent, not earned.

Since they are inherent, there is a dual responsibility of citizens and elected officials to engage in good-faith political participation. Sadly, this process broke down a long time ago, and we need to fix it.

Though I’m a Democrat, I really want my party’s victories to be the result of an engaged public rather than a detached one.

I strongly prefer Republican governance based off a mass popular groundswell than rule by Democrats owing their success to only a small but passionate.

I don’t know where that repair work starts, or if it’s even possible. But shaming voters for their disillusionment will only make things worse.

So let me propose these “Keller rules” instead:

1) If you complain, you should get involved and vote — it’s more effective.

2) If you’re in government, you should do everything you can to get people out to the polls to vote, even if it’s not for you.

Steve Keller of Averill Park is a regular contributor to the Sunday Opinion section.

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