If You Don’t Vote ….

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” – Plato

“Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don’t vote.” –  William E. Simon

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” –  Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

Voting is one of the cornerstones to a representative democracy, such as the United States, but typically, barely half of all eligible voters actually cast a ballot. In the past four presidential elections, the following percentages of eligible voters actually voted:

  • 2012 – 57.5%
  • 2008 – 62.3%
  • 2004 – 60.4%
  • 2000 – 54.2%

That is a pretty shabby showing, if you ask me.  The U.S. ranks only 31st among 35 developed nations in the world.

Why don’t people vote?

Many members of society do not vote because they believe the system is flawed. They believe that there is little to no difference between Democrats and Republicans, and they do not vote because there is a slim chance that a third-party candidate can win an election. The seven top reasons given for why people don’t vote are:

  1. They think their vote won’t count
  2. Too busy
  3. Registration requirements
  4. Apathy
  5. Lines are too long
  6. Don’t like the candidates
  7. Can’t get to the polls

All of which, of course, are easily rebutted.  And, predictably, I shall do just that!

  1. They think their vote won’t count — This is a common excuse that’s rooted in the belief that the Electoral College chooses the President, not the voters. In reality, the popular vote in each state determines which candidate the Electoral College endorses for that state.
  2. Too busy — People all over the world have fought and died for the right to vote. The least we can do is carve out a few minutes to go to a polling center and cast our vote. I bet those who claim they are too busy found time to sit and watch some mindless television show!
  3. Registration requirements — Registration itself is painless and takes little more than the presentation of identification. These days, you can get the form online and mail in your registration. My granddaughter registered to vote for the first time this year and the entire process took all of 10 minutes.  10 minutes … I think you can find time!
  4. Apathy — If you are too apathetic to vote, you should also be sure to hold your complaints about the way things are run. If you don’t voice your opinion by voting, you shouldn’t have the right to voice your complaints when things don’t go the way you want them to.
  5. Lines are too long — In reality, voting lines are seldom long, even for high-profile presidential races. With the advent of new technology, voting is becoming easier and more efficient than ever before, and this allows voters to get in and out without having to wait in long lines.
  6. Don’t like the candidates — A politician’s stance on issues important to you is more important than whether or not they are likeable. Even if it’s choosing the lesser of two or more evils in your eyes, voting is still an important way for you to voice your opinion about the subjects you care about most.
  7. Can’t get to the polls — Advocacy groups are making it much easier to get to the polls, even for those with special needs. In addition, absentee voting allows those people who are temporarily out of the country to cast their vote remotely. As a result, claiming that you can’t get to the polls is not a very good excuse not to vote. Since I have no car at present, I will either borrow my neighbor’s car or walk the mile-and-a-half to vote, but one way or another, I will get there!

After the Constitution was signed, basically only rich white men with property had the RIGHT to vote. Women did not have the right to vote until 1920. This means that 50% of the population could not legally vote. Now add in slaves, Indians and non-property owners plus indentured servants and the number of people who could vote back then was miniscule. Many women paid a heavy price to get the right to vote, but you are ‘too busy’?  Many died over the course of decades before African-Americans finally earned the right to vote, but you don’t like waiting in line, so you will throw your single vote away?  An article in Time on this subject from 2014 is well worth the read.

Every election year, every vote is important, but this year is especially so.  This year we are faced with two choices, one of which could very well mean the end of our democracy as we have known it.  Vote your conscience, vote based on facts, vote based on whatever criteria you deem relevant, but for Pete’s sake, get off your posterior and go vote!

10 thoughts on “If You Don’t Vote ….

  1. Jill, great post. Voting should be mandatory, in my view. One can abstain, if they choose, but it is too important. I would like to see campaign and election reform, that will add a 28th amendment to get money out of politics or lessen its influence overturning Citizens United and McCutcheon, the latter which lets people not impacted by your election to donate money to fund a candidate. Plus, getting the money out will free up 2/3 of a legislator’s time to actually do something. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Keith! Yes, in the past I have not thought much about mandatory voting, but this year I have considered it more and more. We shouldn’t need to make it mandatory, but the populace seems to be more and more apathetic to the democratic process of electing our leaders. So, maybe it is time to make them participate. I am all for overturning Citizens United … and getting money out of the process. It seems to me that money is the main reason the election process has turned into a popularity contest rather than one based on issues and intellect. I remember when campaigning started a few months before the actual election, but now all our elected representatives are on the campaign trail for a full year or more before the election! Not what I call ‘doing their jobs’!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Jill and friends,

    I KEEP TELLING FOLKS,. “IF YOU DON’T VOTE, THEN DON’T GET TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT YOU GET!”

    For those who do not keep up with the positions of politicians or their backgrounds and who would like guidance, I usually refer them to the recommendations that are made public by the League of Women Voters, a non partisan organization, “League Of Women Voters Guide.”

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have always had a problem with the cry to get out and vote because so many voters don’t bother to do any research beforehand. The cry should be, become informed about the candidates as much as possible and THEN vote. Needless to say, we need to get out the “blue” vote this year, because any serious voter who bothers to check will see that this country needs a Democratic plurality at least in the Senate to support a Democratic president. Otherwise we will have four more years of gridlock.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You make an excellent point, Hugh, and one that I did have in the back of my mind as I wrote that post. However, in the forefront of my mind were all those who, while they say “Nevertrump”, are lukewarm about Clinton and have proclaimed that they will either ‘just stay home’ or else ‘vote for Mickey Mouse’. But your point is very well-taken. Sadly, far too many are not willing to invest the time and energy to do the research, so instead they get their “information” from stupid, mindless Facebook memes. Sigh. sigh.

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