“The consequences of anybody here, not turning out and doing everything you can to get your friends, neighbors, family to turn out, the consequences of you staying home would be profoundly dangerous to this country, to our democracy.” Barack Obama, Former U.S. President.
It is our right and Obligation
Citizens vote! It is our right to have an opinion and express it at the ballot box. Both political parties have noted that this national election is important. We have couched it as the tipping point of our democracy. We have never had a clearer choice than we have this year. But if you don’t vote, then you had no choice. The purpose of this piece is not to convince you to vote one way or the other, it is to convince you to vote after careful consideration.
Citizenship obligates us to vote.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and The Voting Rights Act of 1965 are the two foundational federal laws that define voter registration requirements, voting rules, procedures, and voter discrimination. According to FindLaw, July 2020.
The right to vote is significant civil liberty for all Americans because it affects all other rights we have. The opportunity for citizens to choose who represents them in government represents everything that a democracy aspires to be. There are many other federal and state laws related to voting.
Even with all these protections, voting rights are under attack in certain states. There is a constant barrage of voter suppression tactics to make it hard for women, minorities, and the homeless to vote.
So it is important that vote for the people who will uphold your vision and values for the country for the next four years. Why should felons who have served their time no longer be able to vote? Why don’t we yet have a justice system that provides equal justice for all?
Duties and Obligations of Citizenship
While you won’t find an explicit list of official obligations of a U.S. citizen anywhere, according to the Legal Beagle, December 14, 2018, “the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides a list of nine responsibilities, including supporting and defending the Constitution, taking part in the democratic process, respecting and obeying federal, state and local laws, respecting the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others, paying income and other taxes on time, and serving on a jury when called upon.”
Nowhere, even here, does it say you have an obligation to vote explicitly. But it says you should take part in the democratic process. There is nothing more important in the democratic process than voting so we can hear your voice.
Barriers to Voting.
State laws can make it difficult for people to vote by placing impediments in their path they have to meet before they can vote. I list some more egregious examples below.
Voter id requirements-Many states impose id requirements supposedly to avert fraud, but it simply disenfranchises many.
Voter poll purges- this is a way to remove people who haven’t voted recently but may want to.
Limiting polling places and times- this is a way to disenfranchise the less mobile voters (poor, elderly, and homeless.)
Lack of funding-fewer dollars means long lines, another way to discourage voting
Reduced early voting and hours- an inconvenience that makes it harder for portions of the electorate to vote.
Social Networks and misinformation.
As we saw in 2016, our social network platforms are being used again in 2020. The New York Times headlines state, “Iran and Russia Seek to Influence Election in Final Days, U.S. Official warns.” They send out emails that talk about long lines and delays that don’t exist to discourage you from trying to vote. They talk about rampant voter fraud with Mail-in Ballots that don’t exist. It is critical in this election that you make sure the original source of the email is valid, not just the person who forwarded it to you. The bottom line is that China, Iran, and Russia don’t want our democracy to prosper, they want to sow the seeds of doubt and discord so we won’t succeed. The best way to combat this is for you to Vote.
Reasons to vote.
Your vote matters.
Voting is a privilege
You help determine who runs the government- locally, statewide, and nationally.
Voting is a right that has been bought with the blood of other citizens and protected by our veterans.
China, Russia, and Iran don’t want you to vote!
“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don’t vote.” George Jean Nathan, American Drama Critic and Magazine Editor
“If we don’t vote, we are ignoring history and giving away the future.” Pat Mitchell, American Businesswoman.
“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.” Franklin D. Roosevelt, Former U.S. President.