There’s no excuse not to vote

Kate Ocker, JAG student life editor

I registered to vote today. I have been keeping up with the presidential elections as much as I can (without going insane) and I am genuinely excited to cast my ballot in November.

As someone who has always considered voting a civil duty and privilege, I was taken a little off guard the other day when a coworker said that he isn’t going to vote. This isn’t the first time I have heard someone say that their vote didn’t really count or that they just weren’t interested in politics but if you knew my friend, you would be shocked too. Especially when just minutes before he was talking about why he supports candidate Bernie Sanders. I can’t help but wonder; how do you support a cause or a candidate without voting? Of course, you could donate your money or time but it all really comes down to voting.

Voting is not just about electing an official, it is about supporting the idea that democracy makes this nation great. Your vote is your voice. It is one of most powerful things American citizens have. As a country we limit authority and check each other; a rare occurrence and something to be proud of. It’s easy to lose perspective in the land of the free, but the reality is that a good portion of the world’s governments gives their people no part in selecting their leaders. No matter your age, race or gender, your right to vote came at a price. Honor the sacrifices others have made for your voice by voting.

Not only is voting essential for democracy, but it forces you to decide what you really believe about the world. Over the past few months, I have learned more about my own views and the candidates I support than I ever have before. Before I had beliefs that I strongly defended with little knowledge about the topics. To prepare for the upcoming election I have learned the facts and can defend my beliefs properly.

An argument non-voters like to make is “My vote doesn’t really count, so what’s the point.” It is true, in the electoral college system, that one person does not equal one vote but that does not mean that votes don’t matter. This system can confuse and steer people away from voting but voting itself could help change this system. In the last presidential election, 93 million eligible citizens did not vote. Kansas is the perfect example for possible frustration because the state has consistently voted republican. Democrats become discouraged to vote and Republicans already know they will win. Then, all of a sudden people have an excuse not to vote, but if 93 million people decided to get out of bed on Tuesday, Nov. 1, the election could go quite differently.

Another common argument against voting is that the voter doesn’t want to choose between the lesser of two evils. Everyone can agree that politics are complicated and there’s no perfect candidate, but it makes complete sense to pick the ‘less evil’ candidate. “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don’t vote,” said drama critic George Jean Nathan. Not voting is giving up. If you don’t vote you are conceding even more power to the politics you don’t support.

I plan on voting for the rest of my life. Even with Trump winning Super Tuesday, I still have hope for the upcoming presidential election because ultimately America will choose another president four years from now.

If you are registered Republican you can vote in the Kansas Caucus at Rhein Benninghoven Elementary on Saturday, March 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. If you are registered Democrat you can vote at Monticello Trails Middle School on Saturday, March 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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