Voting: Option or Duty?

CJ Simione, Staff Writer

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Although people may feel very strongly towards a certain candidate or party in elections, many will not make the effort to go out to the polls and vote.

According to The New York Times, “40 percent of eligible voters don’t vote during presidential elections, and typically 60 percent don’t vote in congressional midterm elections..” I feel it is not only a duty, but an honor to vote a government official into office. We, as Americans, are lucky to be in a country where we have say in what is going on and who is in our government. Many other countries, such as North Korea, do not rely on the citizens for support at all. Thirty-one countries have some form of mandatory voting, according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. This list includes nine members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and two-thirds of the Latin American nations. Obviously, these countries feel the need to get the people involved in the political environment, and also see it more of an privilege to vote rather than a chore.

With the voting turnout numbers being below 50% in recent years, this leads me into another thought: why not make voting mandatory to provoke interest? This mandatory voting system can even be backed by fines for people who choose not to vote. I would think that this would not only promote interest in which candidates are running for office, but interest in government in general. This system may be difficult to regulate, but with the right guidelines, I think it could work in the U.S. The voters and non-voters are basically 50-50 at the moment, so with some persuasion by government officials it would have an even better chance of passing.

If jury duty is mandatory, why isn’t voting? Voting allows individuals to make a personal choice for a candidate. Jury duty allows individuals to make decisions, but they are based upon specific laws and  guidelines.  Again, if voting were mandatory, I don’t think it would have as much backlash as jury duty has at all. The people of America are very opinionated; they love to share their opinions, especially when it comes to politics.  If they had this extra” encouragement “ to vote, citizens would be  more likely to take an interest in our government and make more educated choices.