Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Civic Duty

I voted today, did you?

An interesting discussion on Facebook got me to thinking about our "right" and "duty" to vote.  I vote every year.  In fact, I haven't missed an election since I turned 18.  I love politics (well, love might not be exactly the right word) and I love being informed about current issues and candidates.  I have never really understood why some people do not exercise their right to vote because I can't imagine not voting.

Anyways...back to Facebook.  One of my friends made a conscious decision to not vote.  It wasn't because he was too tired to make it to the polling location or too apathetic too care.  He didn't feel that he was as fully informed as he should be before voting.  A few people came down on him pretty harshly for being "un-American" and "un-Patriotic" (two phrases I am personally sick of hearing).  They were especially upset that he is active duty military and not voting.  (I guess that somehow makes it worse???)  I can't, for the life of me, understand how this friend, this member of the Armed Forces, can be considered "un-American" and "un-Patriotic" when he has spent the better part of his adult life literally living the life of an actual American Patriot.  What's more patriotic than serving your country???

The more I thought about it...the more I realized that I wished MORE people would recognize the fact that they are uninformed and not vote on issues/candidates they don't fully understand.  I would never tell someone they couldn't or shouldn't vote, but shouldn't we all take the time to get informed before we head to the election booth?  I have only voted a straight one-party ticket ONE time and it was because I was so disgusted by the incumbents and they all happened to be from one party.  I vote my conscience for each individual candidate and each issue.  Sometimes it's hard.  It definitely means I have to put a little extra effort to find out how the candidate stacks up on the issues most important to me and how the individual issues/referendums/amendments will affect me, my community, & the nation.

There have been times when I have abstained from voting for specific issues on a ballot, especially when I was voting absentee.  I didn't feel that it was fair for me to vote on local issues when I wasn't currently enmeshed in the community.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that is exactly what my friend did by abstaining to vote at all this election cycle.  He exercised his right to vote by not voting blindly.  That, in my opinion, is a more educated & informed decision than many people probably made at the poll today.
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