Why I Vote

Today is Election Day if you live in the USA.  First thing this morning I walked down to my voting location (which is conveniently right next to my house) and cast my ballot.  I then got that little round sticker that says “I Voted” on it, which I promptly applied to my shirt.

Since I have been of the age to vote (for ten years now) I think that I have only ever missed one or two local elections, never any national elections.  I feel like that is a pretty good track record.  I remember, at 18, being more excited about getting to vote than anything else.  I always feel excited about the opportunity and try to make sure that I get out and cast my ballot.

Why do I vote?  I am well aware of the various arguments as to why not to vote. Individual votes don’t count (especially when you live in a state the overwhelmingly voted for the opposite party that you do.  Such is my situation).  There are no good candidates.  It is waste of time (yup,cause I was going to be doing something real important for those twenty minutes this morning.  Real important = sit on my butt drinking coffee and reading the news).  The system is rigged.  Etc.  There are tons of reasons and for a good many people they are reason enough not to cast a ballot.

Not for me.  You see, I’ve thought about this a long time, and I have finally come up with a reason to vote.  I used to think that it was because you don’t have a right to complain if you don’t vote, but I have since rejected this.  Everyone in the United States has freedom of speech, and thus, the right to complain, regardless of voting participation.  And while I do have my critiques of the political system, candidates (both for presidential elections like this year), and the whole election process itself, I try not to let cynicism dictate my actions.

Simply put, I vote because I can.

The more I have thought about this the more important it has become to me.  Within reason, voting has been a rarity for people throughout history.  A lot of people used to live under government systems, like monarchy, where voting was not part of the governance.  Then, even in systems that did have some form of voting, it was not guaranteed to everyone.  Depending on your gender, race, religion, or whether you were free or owned property, would dictate whether or not you got to vote.  Even in the modern world there are many places where people do not have free open elections.  What do you think a big part of the Arab Spring was about?  And here is the sad fact, even in our nation, our great nation, voting has not always been a right for people.  Even up through the 20th Century women and minorities faced challenges and prevention to voting.  Still, to this day, there are issues with voting (voter ID laws might sound good, but in the long-term they my disenfranchise a large number of potential voters).  So I vote because I can, and that is a lucky thing to be able to do.

The system is far from perfect and there is a lot that we could do to improve it.  One sure way to do that though, is to participate and elect representatives who’ll continue to defend the right to vote, as well as work to enact a better system.

I am not going to be able to convince you to vote if you are against it.  I won’t try.  But, if like me, you think that having a right to vote is a pretty cool and special deal, then I recommend you get out there today and cast you ballot.

Happy Tuesday folks, hope it is a good one.

~ by Nathaniel on November 6, 2012.

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