There are many reasons to vote—or to decide not to vote. As we inch closer to November’s election, you might hear some of the common arguments in favor of voting:
- It’s your civic duty to vote
- Other people don’t have the right to vote, so you should exercise your right to vote
- People fought and died for your right to vote, and not voting is disrespectful of their sacrifice
- If you don’t vote, you can’t complain about the outcome of the election
But these arguments overlook something critical: you don’t just have a right to vote, but also a right not to vote.
Joel Bowman, in a piece at Truth & Plenty, explores the value of not voting. Citing the current election in the United States, he asks:
What kind of popularity contest is this? One in which between a third and a half of the population are guaranteed to harbor “strong” negative feelings against the winner?
It’s even possible, given current polling data, that a majority of the population could end up living under an unelected (by them) candidate.
Is that what they call “power to the people?” Or a government “of the people, by the people and for the people?”“]
He goes on to explain that, while there are other people in the world who don’t share your rights to vote, there are also people in the world who don’t have the right not to vote. In several countries around the world, voting is mandatory, and those who don’t vote can face legal consequences.
Imagine an election between two candidates you found equally abhorrent. Is it right to force someone to vote, even though they would prefer not to express support for either option?
Consider these questions when you decide whether to vote this November. You can celebrate your voting rights however you like—but remember that you can honor your right to vote by exercising your right to abstain from voting. Not everyone has that freedom.
If you do plan to vote, learn how to vote well by checking out our video below.