(From The Campus Lantern – November 8, 2012)
This last Tuesday, November 6, was Election Day in the United States. For some Americans, this was the most important day since the previous election in 2008. For others, Tuesday was just like any other day. Every U.S. citizen has the legal right to vote in the presidential election, so why didn’t some citizens take advantage of this right?
One of the understandable excuses for not voting on Tuesday was Hurricane Sandy, which swept through the East Coast a little over two weeks ago. According to cbsnews.com, an estimated 54 million Americans were affected by the hurricane. Of these 54 million Americans, not all of them were drastically affected. Those who lost power for a week should have still voted. Those who were without cable for a while should have still voted. Those who had a tree branch blocking their driveway for a few days should have still voted. However, those Americans that were seriously affected by Sandy, including the death of a loved one or the destruction of their home, cannot be criticized for not voting.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 64% of Americans voted in the 2008 presidential election, and it is likely that that statistic was about the same for this election. There are many American citizens who didn’t vote simply because they were lazy. I’ve heard so many unjustifiable excuses: “I didn’t have enough time on Tuesday; I didn’t research the candidates, so I wasn’t sure who to vote for; I didn’t register to vote on time.” If needed, you could have asked to leave work early or to go into work late in order to cast your vote – however, that wasn’t necessary since the polls were open from 6:00 AM till 8:00 PM on Tuesday, and it is very rare that workers have 14-hour-days (ballotpedia.org). There is no excuse for not researching the candidates. There were countless numbers of news articles, interviews, and radio shows on each candidate. There were also four presidential debates – you could have watched at least one. American citizens had four years to register to vote, and the deadline was five days before the primary (sots.ct.gov). I find it hard to believe that anyone had no time in the past four years to register to vote. People who didn’t vote because of these reasons are indolent and disappointing as U.S. citizens.
It is an American citizen’s duty to vote. Citizens who didn’t vote should not complain about things they think the president does “wrong.” Citizens who didn’t vote should not criticize the president’s policies. Citizens who didn’t vote need to realize that every vote really does count, and that they could have made the difference if they had put in the effort on Tuesday. In 2016, I hope that less citizens decide to be lazy on Election Day, and that more decide to cast their vote in the presidential election.