Ignorance should not dissuade people from voting

We live in a country where we are able to choose the people who represent us in government. However, voter turnout is never 100 percent. So many people who have the ability to vote don’t. Why? Is it because it’s hard to register, or because it’s difficult to make it to polling places during elections? Well, thanks to modern technology, these problems have become extremely weak excuses. You can now register to vote online, and even register to become a remote voter, meaning you can cast your ballot by mail. You don’t even have to leave your house.

Many people feel they shouldn’t vote because they don’t know enough about politics or the people running. And they feel they simply don’t have the time to become politically involved enough. Surprisingly for some, these “problems” are also easy to remedy. We reside under a system known as “first-past-the-post,” meaning that the person who receives the most votes wins the position, and only one person can win each electoral category. This essentially ensures that the candidate from either one of the two dominant parties (Democrat or Republican) will win every time. This is different from something like proportional representation, where parties are awarded a certain number of seats in government based on the proportion of people who voted for that party in any given election. If the US were set up like this, perhaps it would be necessary to know a little more about who you are voting for. But since it’s not, well, it’s not.

In any given election, a Democrat will run and a Republican will run, along with many other third-party candidates who will most likely not win. Many people understand that voting for these third-party candidates (say the American Communist party, or the Libertarian party) is essentially throwing away your vote. So you are left with two choices: Democrat or Republican. The role of the voter can then be understood as a responsibility not to vote for the right person, but to vote against the person you don’t want to hold office, or the person whose beliefs and platform are farthest from your own.

Voting becomes even simpler with the idea of party loyalty. Any given candidate must first be elected within their own party (as only one party member will be available for the public to choose at a time). And if they do win, they have an obligation to uphold the axioms of their party’s platform, or they will not be supported in future elections, by party or public. And we all know that the politician just wants to be in office. They are usually “party puppets.” But the party has a responsibility to maintain an image, as well as a loyalty to their platform points, in order to please the public and influential constituents. This is why you usually wouldn’t see a Democrat voting to end all affirmative action, or a Republican voting to ban civilian gun rights. So the responsibility of the voter becomes simply to understand the basic difference between a Democrat and a Republican, and choose a side.

Of course, it would be nice to think that our role in government is more nuanced than that, but it’s usually not. If you choose to be uber informed and politically active, then more power to you. However, exemplary activism is not necessary in order to uphold your obligation to the functionality of democracy. We still operate under a system where every vote actually counts, and if everyone actually voted, our representative government would more accurately reflect the opinions and needs of our country. If you’re still not sure about the difference between a Democrat and a Republican, just Google it.

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