One of the most inclusive and simplified definitions of democracy:
A system of the people run by the people for the people.
By this definition, voting is a privilege as well as the right and duty of each and every component of a democratic system… that’s us, the people. It's a moral responsibility of all eligible citizens of a society. Sadly the truth is, many stay away from the process.
According to a US Census, of the over 218 million eligible voters, only 146.3 million are registered. 57.5% Americans voted in the 2012 Presidential election. Not that a 57.5% turnout is something to shout about. Consider that 57.5% voter turnout – it means that 42.5%, or almost half, of all potential votes definitely won’t make a difference.
Why people refrain from voting is no puzzle, either. Many think that their individual vote doesn't matter in the large scheme. Some also think that none of the presented candidates deserve to be in power, and thus don't bother to vote. Both appear to be perfectly valid reasons, don't they? Yet how can a decision made by only half of the population represent what the community, as one people, wants? Never underestimate your single vote. Granted, it alone is not going to be a deciding factor, but if a large majority of individuals thinking on similar lines decide to cast their votes, that certainly will make a difference.
Moreover, do the absconding 42.5% of voters have any honest right to complain about the system when they are not holding their end up? A democratic government differs from other modes of governance in this key aspect: It is the duty of the masses to choose their representatives, who should then look to make the optimum decisions for the class he or she represents. If we don't take part in the process of choosing the right representative for our community, don’t we forfeit the right to complain about the representative that others have chosen?
Here are three basic reasons why a citizen should always exercise his right to vote:
Choose Your Government: This is the most obvious advantage of voting. It allows you to choose people you want to represent your community in the governance of your country. The winning party will govern your society and be answerable to you – voting is essentially hiring and firing the people you appoint to do a job according to your wishes. With the democratic process of voting, a balance in power can be maintained between the governance and the people. Hence, you must cast your vote for presidential elections as well as local body elections.
Investing in a Better Future: The objective of a government is to draft and implement various policies for the betterment of its people. From taxes to road-building, everything is decided by the policy makers that you vote for and place in office. The policies enforced by your chosen representative may impact you to anything from a change in your daily route to an additional tax. Don't you want someone who is going to have this much control over your life to be the right person for the job, and don't you want to have some control over which individual makes those decisions?
A Hard-earned Privilege: The freedom to choose your own administration is one that characterizes democracy. It defines every revolution, past and future. It is a right that has been earned through the hardships suffered by past generations, quite possibly including your very own. It's a right that marks democracy apart from other modes of governance. It has to be cherished, not discarded.
Whatever your political views, it’s important to vote. You can check out www.votesmart.org to check out unbiased facts on each candidate in each election.
“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”
George Jean Nathan (1882-1958)