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You hear it every November when there’s an election. “Get out and vote.” “Do your civic duty.”
Of course, most people only say that because they want you to vote for their preferred candidate, but I digress…..
When it comes to the responsibility of voting in a free republic, I tend to lean on the opinions of two of America’s greatest creative geniuses, South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who said, “There is no shame in not voting if you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
In fact, I will take it a step further: Even if you DO know a lot about policy, there is no shame in not voting if you find the choices objectionable. Some of the smartest people I know refrain from voting for this very reason.
Every election, many people feel pressured into voting when they really do not know anything about the candidates or issues, beyond maybe a quick article they read just before voting.
Much like Parker and Stone, I am not saying these people shouldn’t vote or don’t have the right to vote. I am simply saying that if they are apathetic or simply don’t want to vote, then they have every right to abstain without being made to feel like a monster.
The constant refrain is that people died for your right to vote. But people seem to be confusing rights with duties. Because much like all other rights, just because you have it, does not mean you need to exercise it if you aren’t comfortable doing so.
You have the right to own a gun, but that doesn’t mean you need to purchase one.
You have the right to freely exercise your religion, but you are equally free to not exercise any religion at all.
The point is, having a right doesn’t mean that right needs to be used. Being free to do something also means being free not to do that same exact thing if that is the action you choose to take.
So on this day, Election Day 2017, here is the advice I will give you, no matter how unpopular it may be: Vote if you want. If you do vote, then cast your ballot for the candidate you prefer regardless of why.
But if you don’t like any of the candidates, you believe the system itself is illegitimate, you don’t feel you know anything, or you simply don’t care, then feel free to note vote, if that is what you think is best.
After all, as a wise man once wrote, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
And if you are going to make a choice, it should be the one you want to make, not the one others wish you would make.
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more information
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place