If you aren’t registered to vote, quit reading my blog and register. Gratitude Experiment: Day 42

While more countries than ever around the world are fighting for the right to vote, the United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts of any comparable wealthy countries.

According to Pew Center Research, 51 million people are eligible to vote but are not registered.

Of those polled by CNN, 26% said they were too busy to get themselves on the voter rolls. Twelve percent said their vote wouldn’t count anyway, and 10% said they just didn’t want to get registered.

Even more sobering are estimates that only 75 percent of registered voters will actually cast a ballot this fall.

In a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll of people in the United States who are eligible to vote, eight in 10 say the government plays an important role in their lives. Yet these same people say that the odds are 50-50 that they will even vote.

The main reasons cited are that they are too busy, they just aren’t excited about either candidate, they think their vote doesn’t really matter, or my favorite – nothing ever gets done anyway.

However a look back at history not very long ago shows just how many have fought and sacrificed to establish the right for all citizens in our country to vote.  And it makes this lack of concern distressing, to say the least.

When the US was founded, only white men with property could vote. By 1869, the 15th Amendment guaranteed the right to vote to black men (but it wasn’t until 1965, after much suffering and violence, that literacy tests, as well as many other tactics to dissuade voters of certain races or colors, including violence, were banned).

And it wasn’t until 1920 – less than 100 years ago — when all women in the U.S. could vote, after 50 years of suffragists being beaten, jailed and treated like traitors for wanting the right to vote.

So when I hear that the top reasons given by unregistered voters and by registered voters not planning to vote is that they are too busy or they don’t think it matters, it gets me a little hot under the collar.

Today, on national register to vote day –  as voter registration deadlines loom –  I am grateful for my right to vote and the fact that I realize it does matter.

(For information on voter registration and where candidates stand on various issues, see votesmart.org. For your state’s voter registration deadline visit: http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Voting.shtml.)

77 thoughts on “If you aren’t registered to vote, quit reading my blog and register. Gratitude Experiment: Day 42

  1. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find a lot of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content for yourself? I wouldn’t mind composing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write about here. Again, awesome blog!

  2. Pingback: Something to help that ‘not so fresh’ feeling | life on wry

  3. Pingback: I Won’t Sleep Outside For a Phone, But I Will Stand In Line To Vote | An Imperfect Girl's Quest For Perfection

  4. Pingback: Vote! It’s important! « A City Broad Abroad

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  6. I’m a nonvoter, and I don’t feel bad about it.

    In fact, I recently wrote an entry on my blog about why I’m not voting, and that I’m starting to get upset with the people who get upset at my choice to not cast a vote this fall. It all started when some librarians gave me a mean look when I told them I would prefer to not vote.

    http://heykuhn.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/what-youre-not-voting/

    And for what it’s worth, if I had to choose, I’d be with the ‘my vote doesn’t matter’ group.

  7. Well said! Another point that I think most people fail to consider is that there is far more to vote about than just President. If you aren’t registered or just decide not to vote, you’re also declining to give your input on local and state issues and politicians – which is an area where your vote really CAN matter in a tangible way.

  8. Pingback: Two Amendments Later, Here I Am | An Imperfect Girl's Quest for Perfection

  9. I’m in two minds on this. (And let’s not pretend the issue voter apathy and the all-politicians-are-the same rationale behind it don’t exist in the UK, in fact we could be ahead of you- Obama is just your Tony Blair/New Labour: promise massive change, deliver… not so much.)

    The thing is, true democratic freedom surely demands the right not only to vote but the right not to vote, the right not to endorse a given candidate or party. It doesn’t mean you have no opinion or that you can’t complain- often the candidates in question are all (in one’s view) not worth voting for, or the ones that are worth voting for, plus any option to write-in or spoil your ballot paper, are not worth it as they will do little.

    Having said that, it normally doesn’t take too much effort to take a bit of paper and put a cross in a box (or its electronic equivalent), and at least doing so sends a signal to the politicians that what they do matters enough for people to vote for them, or vote them out. Plus, even if the minor candidates don’t stand much chance, if no-one votes for them or otherwise supports them, it’s rather a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  10. I don’t vote because I don’t like any of the politicians. I used to vote, but not anymore. It’s a matter of conscience. Both parties are filled with evil, lying scumbags who engage in activities and endorse policies that are beyond unethical. Why should I give either one of them my vote? If ever there is a candidate that is worth voting for, I will happily and eagerly do so, but until and if that ever happens, I don’t see why I should be obligated to vote for a person I fundamentally dislike.

  11. I completely agree. I know that as a very young voter (I’m only 21) I could use a plethora of excuses for a reason not to vote. Fortunately for me, and the country, my parents have taught me that my vote will make a difference. I would love for others to educate themselves before voting before just picking faces. This is a great read for my generation especially. I’m following you right now!

  12. Timely post. Voter participation in this country is embarrassing and a big reason why we find our country in a state of near total corporate control. Afterall, we get the government we deserve.

  13. Yes! Voting is a duty of every citizen who’s able. If everyone who was dissatisfied with both the incumbent president and the main challenger (as I am) went to vote for a third-party or independent candidate, that would reflect their discontent in the final numbers – even if those candidates have no chance of winning. You can’t be heard if you don’t talk.

  14. Pingback: Peaches gets political: Go Vote! « A Lateral Plunge: Where Life Goes From Here

  15. oh don’t even get me started on this subject. Some of the biggest loud mouths are NON-VOTERS. So many Americans never think about how this is a honor. Spoiled is an understatement. What also gets me hot under the collar is how many would FIGHT for their freedom if they had to and taken away …. very few …they want others to fight for them. I almost threw up one day when I heard an old friend say ” I would hide my son in Canada if he got drafted.” Really??? That type of mentality blows my mind.

    • Let them volunteer, by all means, let men much more courageous than I volunteer to fight. But do not dare tell me or my children they must fight. That it is compulsary if they are to be a patriot. That sort of jingoism is what the radicals in the 60’s fought against.

      • I could not disagree with you more. That is your opinion and you are able to voice your opinion due to patriots who were willing to think of others and fight for rights and freedom. H’m allowing your child to enjoy all the benefits of freedom but not wanting to fight to uphold them I find repulsive. The sixties were the sixties… we LIVE in the NOW.

  16. The naivety of most of these comments astounds me! We are all enslaved by a simple system that teaches “We are Free” but does not demonstrate Freedom.

    We are ECONOMIC SLAVES!

    A good slave is one who believes its free-

    It sets its own alarm clock, travels all the way to “work”, follows all the rules, even gives a good slice of his money back to his Master, through taxation and spending all that earned money consuming whatever the system promotes on its programming medium, THE TV!!

    Please, if you are all FREE and so happy that you can vote, why not try leaving your Job tomorrow? Ditch your passport, Drivers license, Birth Cert then, Maybe try and travel without these and see how far you get.. Land of the Free – what a joke!!

    • If this makes one a slave, it is slavery merely to the circumstances of life and the need to survive. People need to work together to survive- that’s what societies are for. And all societies have some need for order and means of sorting out disputes- which is why there is some sort of government. Even small tribal groups probably have a cheif or elders or at least some sort of rules and traditions it members are expected to follow. Granted government in most modern nations are top-heavy and corrupt, but I doubt we’d get along easily with none. True “freedom” is probably impossible- we are at the least slaves to the laws of physics, the survival instinct, and the need to get along.

      Of course, one could follow your suggestion and become some sort of latter-day Diogenes. I’m sure it’s possible, if not easy.

  17. Meh. I am OK if some people don’t vote. If you do not know or care about candidates or issues, but merely check the boxes… stay home.

    • I agree totally; I think everyone should vote, but also think that people should make an informed decision (at least listen to what each candidate has to SAY) instead of just blindly voting for one candidate or another; that just defeats the whole purpose of the election.

  18. Another wrinkle in prospective voter turnout is the advent of voter ID laws in certain states. This could depress turnout in low-income communities where people, for various reasons, don’t have a photo ID. A suit in Wisconsin to strike down its law is going on now.

  19. Part of the problem is that our two parties have been underchallenged for far to long. We don’t have true choice. I was excited at the creation of the Tea Party, but it seems to be fading away. Forget about my politics, finally, It looked like we had a choice. If the Tea Party had been more successful it may have spawned other parties. A liberal party, a moderate party. Dems and Reps are not the original or only parties we have ever had. And they have both been so corrupted by power that people like me are fed up. Really look at Obama and Romney. The republicans have chosen the most Obama like candidate they could find. look at his voting record. Hell Romneycare is the model for much of Obamacare. What keeps me voting is that my state allows write in ballots, which I use very liberally, especially when a candidate is cross endorsed. I think of someone I felt represented me and write them in. If everyone followed my example, we could have some real change at the local level.

  20. Pingback: If you aren’t registered to vote, quit reading my blog and register. Gratitude Experiment: Day 42 « excompanyman

  21. Pingback: If you aren’t registered to vote, quit reading my blog and register. Gratitude Experiment: Day 42 « excompanyman

  22. in the last 10 years i watched the white house begin to master internet media to a degree that could help in preaching this truth and this year they may
    i recently moved from a state where they wonder why their officials did this or that but they do not vote much there
    the state i moved to they applaud and cheer on the elected officials for their works and they vote more often here

  23. The UK struggles with voter turnouts too. Some people don’t vote because they’re disillusioned with politics, to show this I think there should be an option on the voting slip otherwise those who abstain for legitimate reasons are lost in a crowd of lazy people who don’t realise the importance of their vote.

  24. I’m studying abroad this semester and I registered to vote last year so I could vote in the Amendment One while I was still in NC. I just mailed in my absentee voter’s ballot from Ireland. The thing that irked me the most about the Amendment One ballot is that even my parents said “Well, it’s not like I would make a difference.” However, if you look at the voting reports, the counties in NC that were against Amendment One had universities in them. Us college students made a difference, why wouldn’t anyone be able to?

  25. I suppose the problem is that people don’t remember what it was like not to be able to vote. Here in South Africa, the memories are fresh (not for me, I’m too young, but I grew up with the stories). I suppose with the right to vote comes the right to abstain though, and difficult as it is we must try to respect that. Generally though, I push and pull on my family members and friends to register for voting, because I do believe it is SO important…

  26. Of course. Isn’t it obvious that one vote amongst millions will make a difference? If you want any change, use a small piece of paper among millions to choose some liar who might give you something you want.
    Of course, you‘d probably have better luck if you just got rich then funded the liar you like, but I‘m sure they’ll care just as much about all those pieces of paper.
    And of course, we can always trust our elected superiors to act in the best interests of us, keeping us from destroying ourselves and each other, because, well they’re better than us. That’s why I give them power over you, and you give them power over me.

  27. Voting and not voting has its implications; it is an indicator for overall confidence in the system. When voter turnout is insufficient, the governments legitimacy is in jeopardy. What that means in the individual case is open to interpretation, though I dare say that means change is not far along the road. If I didnt vote, it wouldn’t be for a stupid excuse that you attribute to the regular non-voter, but because I believed that the system needed to be boycotted which I don’t believe is the case, despite some rather embarrassing decisions of the current administration.

  28. I m nt registered to vote coz m married to another country guy.. And dont want to leave my own country citizenship 😦
    Confusedddd ¿¿¿¡¡¡

  29. At least, being a registered voter, I’m proofed against hectoring from people such as you. And I CAN complain, right? Because I vote AND I pay taxes. I fully understand why people don’t vote. They feel disenfranchised by a completely phony system that wastes millions of dollars on arguing non-issues and attacking the other guy. Meanwhile the Wall Street bankers have totally run amok (again) and our foreign policy is brutally embarrassing.
    But, hey, we can always VOTE, right?

      • That is a rather remote possibility. I am doing my damnedest to be a responsible citizen, and there isn’t room in my reality to run for public office. People sometimes have complicated lives, and dogma won’t answer. Perhaps if your lead sentence were POSITIVE rather than negative, I wouldn’t have felt the inclination to jerk your chain.

  30. Voting is the rock-bottom minimum that anyone must do to call oneself a citizen. Without it, you may as well live in a monarchy. Yes, it might not accomplish anything. How many hours to you spend in front of the tv not accomplishing anything? Even if they never count your vote, you can at least complain of it as long as you gave them something to count.

    • Hey, some of us actually live in a monarchy and can still vote! (It’s known as “constitutional monarchy”, and usually the monarch’s role is largely de facto ceremonial, ruling through their governments. The Queen technically could fail to pass legislation in the UK, but there would effectively be a constitutional crisis and a massive uproar.)

      As to what you say- voting doesn’t require much effort, to be sure, though I understand if some have good reasons for not doing so. Still, you could always turn out and spoil your ballot paper, and Americans have the luxury of write-ins, which we Brits don’t.

      • We are a “real” monarchy, thanks all the same! 😉

        (The technical term,”absolute monarchy” is preferable.)

        And no, I guess I woudn’t want to be a part of that- though it much depends on how good the ruler is. And, other than Jesus (yes, I believe that), I don’t think there’ll ever be a perfect king…

      • The International Banking Elite, the Families that control the Central Banks and the Federal Reserve.
        Please Google these- (Rothschild, Warburg, Schroder, Schiff, Loeb and Lazard).
        All Senior politicians must tow the line with their wishes, the ones that have their own ideas are sidelined or in extreme cases have an “Accident” .. Do voters not ever question why candidates on the campaign trail almost NEVER see their promises materialise? Look at Obama .. Did he bring the Troops (God bless them) home like he promised? Did he close Gitmo like he promised?
        Of course these days potential candidates are chosen because they are aligned with the Bankers.. look at Romney, if he gets in, the ball will be passed over effortlessly and all will continue exactly as the Bankers planned .

    • I disagree – I vote because I understand that there is some validity to that concept. My vote itself may not change the way the system works, but I think getting involved on some level – whether that’s working on a campaign, running yourself or simply voting – is the only way to make any difference at all.

    • I really would not like compulsory voting. What happens to those who do not vote?

      People here in the U.S. are just plain too lazy and do not care. The 2-party system we have sucks and the candidates of those 2 parties preserve the status quo.

  31. I didn’t vote in the 2008 elections, the first elections I became eligible to vote. It may not seem like an excuse but I forgot about the whole absentee ballot thing. And once I was abroad, I was told they didn’t count absentee ballots anyways so there didn’t seem to be much point.
    However once I came home, I had to renew my license and I realized I could also register to vote at the same time! (The DMV seems like a strange place to do this and I still don’t understand the reasoning but whatever, it made registering that much easier!) So I’ll be voting this year! 🙂

  32. “If you don’t vote, don’t complain” sometimes busyness is a good enough reason though. its not like anyone can magically put in 50 votes.

  33. We’re having a debate in Australia at the moment as to why voting is compulsory. I think you’ve just answered the question here.

    PS – congrats on the FP 🙂

    If you’ve got a moment drop by my blog (I’ve got some news you might be interested in 😀 )

  34. What is register deadline anyways? I am in a voter grey area. I’m registered in a state, to a district I no longer live in, but I’m not a permanent resident of the district I do live in, so they won’t allow me to register. Basically, it’s as if I don’t exist…

  35. LOL but one hundred percent exercise their right to complain about the gov’t. Go fig. I always vote and I always drag my kids with me to show them it’s a big deal.

  36. I don’t understand people who don’t vote, either. And, I’m actually surprised at that statistic, that only 75% of registered voters will vote come election day; I think it will be far less.

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