Get out the Vote!

As I was watching thinking about the presidential debate, I remembered our class discussion of what it means to be an American. I remembered the tenets of American life that we discussed. We Americans are allowed to speak freely and enjoy many rights, but we do not always exercise them. One right that that I feel is the hallmark of being an American is having the right to vote. In our country, women and African Americans have struggled for this right; women have not even been able to exercise this right for 100 years. In other countries, people are still fighting and dying to vote. To me, the fact that many Americans do not vote at all is absurd. It is true that in not exercising their right to vote, they are exercising their right to make their own decisions, but given how important voting is in deciding the future of our country, and how lucky we Americans are to live in a country where our government’s authority is based on the will of the people, every able-bodied person should be lining up at the voting booths to decide who will run this country for the next four years. Why do you think people do not vote? How can we make a difference and get the vote out? Is there something we as a class could do?

 

Citation for picture above: http://realgovgirl.blogspot.com/2010/10/dont-be-goat.html

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5 Responses to Get out the Vote!

  1. AlexP says:

    Madison, you bring up a great point that I have been wondering for a long time as well. However, as I was starting to think about it and I realized that some people don’t vote because they believe that they are helping their country in their own way. Giving people the right to vote, I agree, can be characterized as American, but forcing someone to vote cannot be. There are many instances where people will not agree with anyone running (including third party candidates) and they feel as if they are contributing by not voting for anyone. That being said, there definitely are some people who are just too lazy to register or drive to the polls. This is unacceptable and I believe, too, that something should be done about this. However, I’m going to have to disagree with you on your statement, “the fact that many Americans do not vote at all is absurd” because we don’t really know why people don’t vote. Furthermore, it’s conceivable that forcing people to vote just for the sake of exercising their right is worse than not voting because one don’t want to, depending on how you look at it. It would be an injustice to the American people to vote for someone just because a person has that right. If enough people in the US vote just for the sake of voting, it could possibly influence the results in an unfair manner. All in all, if Americans are fully capable of voting (no other incapabilities, problems, or anything else stopping them from getting to a poll), and if they actually agree with one of the candidates running, then they should contribute to the well being of their country and vote. If they don’t agree with any of the candidates, then it is just as well that they don’t vote.

  2. Will says:

    Madison, you pose a very interesting question concerning the American peoples’ ability to vote. After all, we do live in a country whose foundation is based on democracy and bringing the power to the people. Nonetheless, many people do not vote. I could not conjure a possible explanation as to why people would not take full advantage of their franchise so I turned to google to do a little research and came across this recent article on usatoday.com: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/politics/story/2012-08-15/non-voters-obama-romney/57055184/1. It is a surprisingly interesting article that not only explains why non-voters do not vote, but also ties in the role non-voters play in the upcoming election. The article quotes Curtis Gans, the director of the non-partisan Center for the Study of the American Electorate, who sites the rationale for the non-voters as, “There’s a lot of lack of trust in our leaders, a lack of positive feelings about political institutions, a lack of quality education for large segments of the public, a lack of civic education, the fragmenting effects of waves of communications technology, the cynicism of the coverage of politics — I could go on with a long litany.”

    Concerning the upcoming 2012 presidential election contested between Obama and Romney, the article explains that the “the majority of TV ads don’t try to persuade voters to support one candidate but rather to convince them not to back the other guy.” This animosity and competition between the candidates has a negative effect on neutral voters who are not sure whom to vote for because neither candidate advocates for themselves: Gans predicts that the number of people who do not vote will significantly increase in this upcoming presidential election. Interestingly, however, among people who are unlikely to vote, 43% favor Obama as opposed to the 18% that support Romney. In what promises to be a very close election, the key for Obama could be these “unlikely voters.”

    Ultimately, I agree with many points describing why some Americans do not vote that this article brings up, but I think that the essential democracy which has been bestowed upon us Americans, and has so often been overlooked and taken for granted, should be taken full advantage of. I think that as an American we have an obligation to vote similar to the “manifest destiny” ideology of the 19th century, in which the Americans believed that the nation must expand west to the other end of the continent. Voting is purposeful and significantly effects our nation – it shapes our nation and should make us a better country. Voting cannot be overlooked, and it must be done.

  3. dharbeck says:

    Although it is important that everyone has the right to vote, I see no point in trying to persuade others to vote. As stated above, voting is of great importance to our nation and truly effects our country, and I think the people that recognize that always vote. If someone is not informed and does not care enough I see no absurdity in them not voting, people need to make informed decisions when voting.

  4. Dr. K says:

    Interesting post, Madison, and that article you cite, Will, is also interesting. Another interesting take on it comes from certain political scientists, who suggest that, from a means-ends perspective, it makes no sense to vote. That is, voting is irrational. After all, no election is ever lost by one vote, and usually not even close to one vote. Therefore, my vote will make literally no difference (so the argument goes), while I have to take time and effort to go vote. Of course, there are also political scientists who disagree with this view.

  5. Casey says:

    Madison, I happen to strongly agree that it is unbelievable how many people simply don’t vote. I cannot wait to vote and I do not understand why people don’t. I don’t see how something so crucial to everyone in the U.S everyday lives such as voting for the president is only important enough for half the country to take seriously. Alex and Dr. K both bring up good points that I was just discussing with my older cousin last week. I knew he was a republican and I asked what he thought of Romney. He wasn’t impressed and didn’t like him very much but was unhappy with Obama and he told me he was thinking of not voting even though he has voted every opportunity he has had in the past (Local, Congressional, etc.) He said he felt as though his vote didn’t count and he wasn’t in love with either candidate. I brought up the idea that if many people choose not to vote then it matter which he said he had considered. I believe that when many people believe their votes don’t count it affects the results because that mass won’t vote as opposed to just one person. That is why every person should make their best effort to stay informed and go vote. It is just too important to ignore.

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