How Can Any American Not Vote? — Getting off the couch
Why is it important to vote? Because it is an opportunity to change the future of the country.
Voting is a privilege and a right, but, more aptly, it should be considered a duty — a responsibility every American should take seriously.
Although it has been very different at during stages of our country’s history, today every United States citizen, 18 years of age or older, can vote. Once, only wealthy white males were permitted the vote; African-Americans, Native Americans, women, the poor and certain religious members were all excluded from the right to vote. Changing those prohibitions came with great struggles and, for some, death.
America was founded on the principles of democracy and freedom. Since Americans cast the first vote on January 01, 1789, we have chosen our course of history by casting a ballot. Voting is an act that should be cherished and respected; it is a responsibility to make an informed and researched decision before going to the polls.
“Reading up on the issues, the candidates, and researching the ballot is also the responsibility of the citizen voter and a responsibility that should not be taken lightly, because it is your voice, with the many others, in unison, that can change the direction of a community, state, nation, and even the world,” according to a discussion on AnnenbergClassroom.org. titled, “Path to the Presidency: Why is it important to vote?”
While Americans are not electing a president this year, local and regional representatives, members of Congress, governors and other critical races will be determined Nov. 6. In addition, many municipalities have bond issues, referendums, etc., on which to make decisions. The votes we cast in this election may have a much larger local impact on individual Americans.
Given the importance of elections in the United States, why would so many people choose not to vote?
Why do some refuse to participate in elections when the officials and issues voted on have such strong influence on nearly every aspect of their lives?
Some would say that if you do not vote you have no right to complain; others will take the view that their vote has little effect in the “big picture”. If you do not fulfill your duty of voting it is the only sure-fire way to have no influence over the direction of the country. The right to vote is not to be taken for granted where so many in the world are still prohibited from that privilege.
The fact is there is no excuse for failing to vote. It is the very essence of being lucky enough to live and work in a free society and calling yourself an American. Plus, voting today could not be more convenient. You can vote by requesting an absentee ballot; voting can be done early by going to the polls at certain times, days and locations; and voting can be done by mail to avoid the lines. Again, the fact is there is no excuse for not voting.
“With a government elected by its citizens and that affects every aspect of our lives from schools to health care to homeland security, voting is an important right in our society,” according to the discussion. “By voting, you are making your voice heard and registering your opinion on how you think the government should operate. Enough voices in unison can elect someone to office, reaffirm or even change the course of our government.”
One of our greatest of presidents, Abraham Lincoln notably emphasized that the federal government is of, for and by the people and that voters play the biggest role in ensuring laws and leaders reflect society. Yet, too many citizens do not acknowledge their role and embrace it.
There are so many reasons for voting and no good reasons for failing to vote. Think about the reasons to vote:
- To honor those in our military who courageously fight for us. As well, our law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency workers who safe guard us and defend the peace at home.
- To honor people who struggled for civil rights, women’s suffrage, disability and equal rights and the ideals of justice Freedom requires periodic confirmation and voting is one way of doing that.
- To be a good example to our children and grandchildren by exercising the right to vote as a symbol of our faith in democracy. By voting we send a signal of the importance of the choices we as adults make to secure a better future for ourselves, for our children, and generations who will follow.
- Voting is our society’s great equalizer. No matter our income, ethnic heritage or social status, every eligible citizen over age 18 has the same power of one vote.
- Elections should not be about negative ads, it should be about the options we have to promote positive policy actions. Voting for candidates in whom we believe, and for or against ballot initiatives we know will affect our future, is a perfect message we are thinking citizens and are not swayed by simple negativity.
- Regret is preventable. Nov. 7 is one day too late, and “could have, should have” are sorry alternatives to acting. Have a “no excuses” attitude by committing to vote, ask others to join you in voting, and promote a positive approach to making a difference among family, friends and colleagues. If friend or neighbor needs a ride to the polls, give them one!
- Be a part of making history. Because every indicator points to the prospect that the 2018 Mid-term Election will have impact for years/decades to come, every vote is even more important. As a Floridian, I know how close elections can be!
The first step is registering to vote. That can be done by contacting the Supervisor of Elections. In Palm Beach County, the office can be reached at 240 S. Military Trail in West Palm Beach, at 561-656-6200 or at www.pbcelections.org. (The deadline to register for the 2018 midterms was Oct. 9.) The second step is discovering where to vote. Polling places vary by home address. The voter registration card issued will have the polling place printed on it. The third step is exercising the right. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Remember, the fact is there is no excuse for not voting.
President Franklin Roosevelt put it this way, “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.”