Voting is a privilege

Matt Firpo

Opinion Editor

With election season in full swing, I continually hear, “I don’t want to vote because I don’t like either candidate” or “I don’t know who to vote for.”

This is discouraging to hear. The right to vote, the ability to take part in choosing our own leaders, is a privilege. It is something that we should value and respect.

Around the world, democracy is not the only form of government. People are forced to accept that they do not have a voice in their political system. We do have one.

Even within our own country, voting representation has been limited. Women and people of color have had to fight against stigma to have this right.

Through voting, we are able to express our beliefs and values in choosing a candidate whom we support. Even though the candidate you support does not always align with your beliefs, there is one who will fight for the changes that you want to see in this country.

This election season is controversial. I was disappointed by the choices of both parties for their candidates. Just because the candidate you supported in the primaries did not gain the nomination, does not mean that you cannot vote for the ones who were nominated.

The ability to write in a candidate is a possibility. If you want to vote for your desired candidate, that is an option. However, written-in candidates have slim chances of winning.

No president has ever won an election on a write-in. Historically, candidates have won primaries on write-ins, but rarely elections. Alabama Gov. George Wallace was able to garner 13.5 percent of the popular vote in the 1968 presidential election as a third-party candidate, but that was far from what was required to win.

Between the two mainstream candidates, there is a shroud of attacks on character and propaganda. Both come from different backgrounds and cultures. They both are surrounded by media that are trying to paint each other as the enemy.

It is also important to remember that not liking someone is not a reason to not vote for him or her. Regardless of the mistakes candidates have made in their careers, they are still successful and smart enough to reach this point.

The presidential debates are a time that should be devoted to understanding how candidates plan to address the prominent issues of our society.

This Monday’s performance was the first of several, but there clearly needs to be more structure in place between the candidates. It was difficult to discern where both candidates stood on certain issues.

There are tools for finding out more about each candidate. Each has a website that has entire pages set aside that discuss where the candidate stands on issues.

It is essential that voters understand where each candidate stands on issues because it shows how they are going to affect the country as a whole. As a college student, how is a candidate who wants to make college tuition free affecting me as an individual?

Asking questions and educating yourself about your candidate is part of being a responsible voter. If we are not willing to even know the candidate we are voting for, what is the point?

If we want our government to continue to be “by the people” and “for the people,” the people need to decide for themselves who should lead them rather than complain about the situation.

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