Voting is not simply a right, but a responsibility. Far too often people complain about bad officials running the country, but forget these officials are elected by citizens who refuse to vote. When irresponsible people fail to make it to the polls, they are usually the ones complaining the following year about the decisions made by local leaders they allowed into office by not exercising their right to engage in the process. Even still, low numbers come in annually from communities across the country, especially when there is not a presidential election on the forefront.
The presidential election years tend to generate the most excitement, but it is the local municipal elections that really have an impact within the community. These votes have the most influence, and the absence of one person hitting the polls can truly make a difference. There is a great deal at stake during local elections including whose vision will be represented on a higher level. Local leaders are those who make decisions that impact tax rates, what development can or cannot happen, and how children will be educated much more than those on a national level.
More often than not, bad candidates are elected by well-meaning citizens who refuse to hit the polls. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd President of the United States, said it best:
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.
Voting does matter and as inhabitants of what has been called the free country, it is one of the basic rights of citizenship. In today’s society, it is easy to become cynical and rest on the belief that one vote does not matter, but the reality is when multiple people within the country lean on the same belief, that one vote turns into thousands. This democracy was founded on the principle of fair and free elections in which every eligible citizen casts their vote. Each resident has a responsibility to protect the democratic process and that cannot happen when people opt to withdraw participation.
No matter how justified one may feel for not engaging in the election process, by proclaiming that their vote does not have value, the subconscious message being conveyed is “I do not matter!” This limiting belief, which is quite common, does nothing more than serve as an obstruction to a creative, liberating and satisfying life. It stifles passion and possibility while leaving them in a perpetual stance of irresponsibility, paralyzed in a state of misery. When people believe they do not matter, their life mirrors that mindset.
Does the system need reform? Absolutely, but again, bad officials are often elected by good citizens who refuse to vote. Perhaps, not voting is the way citizens express their disdain for the candidates in question or the election process as a whole, but giving up the right to vote also discharges the right have a voice in the matter.
Choosing not to vote sends a clear message of disrespect for the lives of many people who died fighting for these rights. It is frightening to think of where America would be if the founding fathers, as well as many civil rights activist, felt the same way. No one gave them permission, they simply chose to matter and did so in the face of far more difficult circumstances than many today will ever encounter.
Today’s election is one that should not be ignored. Take and stand and refuse to allow indifference or cynicism to stifle this freedom. The right to vote is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly or disregarded. Every vote, especially on a local level, indeed matters. It is time to ditch the excuses and make it to the polls to help influence how the city will be run. The polls are open until 8 p.m. allowing plenty of time to have a voice in this election. It does matter because bad officials are elected by citizens who refuse to vote.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Press Republican: Editorial: Why you need to vote today
Top Image Courtesy of Andrew McFarlane – Flickr License
Inline Image Courtesy of Todd Van Hoosear – Flickr License
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