Voting Isn’t a Joke- Americans Take their Voting Rights for Granted

franky-wFor decades minorities have fought for the right to vote in America. Thousands of people have been killed and arrested fighting for the right for all citizens no matter the race, gender, or social status to be able to voice their opinions in the elections by voting. Despite the hard work and sacrifices of those who came before us, today there are still people in America who either don’t vote or write in a non-presidential candidate name as a joke. This is a major problem that needs to be addressed.

“If it is a serious write-in meant to send a message, then I have absolutely no problem with it. However, people should take it seriously when they make the decision as to who to vote for, not just to vot
e straight ticket or based on party, but seriously consider all options,” said government teacher Michael Wright.

African Americans fought for the freedom to vote for 99 years, from the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which granted them citizenship but not the right to vote, to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Even with the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870, there were laws put in place to prevent them from voting. This included, but was not limited to, poll taxes and literacy tests.    

From the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls to the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, the fight for women’s suffrage occurred for 72 years from 1848 to 1920. In 1869 Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Women’s Suffrage Association (NWSA) which fought for women’s rights for the next 50 years. Numerous suffragettes were arrested for protesting and force-fed when attempting hunger strikes so American women could vote.

Despite all of the people who fought for our freedoms, there are still individuals who discard their vote. After the 2016 elections, claims spread that 11 thousand people voted for Harambe, a gorilla killed in a zoo incident. There were also claims of countless individuals voting for Hennessy, a popular liquor.

“I think writing in a joke is a waste of time. Why would you wake up and just waste your time and the time of America?” said junior Reilly Malpass.

When Americans don’t vote simply because they feel as though it doesn’t make a difference, they are wrong. In the 2016 presidential election, out of approximately 231,556,622 eligible voters, 95,899,115 (41.4 %) didn’t vote. Not voting makes a very significant difference in the poll results and the fact that so many people aren’t voting is the problem with our elections.

Being able to elect your government officials should be the most appreciated privilege. There are many countries that don’t get a say in who controls their lives; however, here in the USA we elect our president. Yet we take that right for granted.

In the 2016 election many people didn’t vote because they felt neither candidate represented their views. This could be solved with the Third Party. The United States government was never supposed to be a two party system, but because the way that our elections are executed, it is essentially impossible for a Third Party candidate to win. Voters have to either settle on a candidate, vote for a candidate that won’t win, or chose not to vote at all.

If we remove the stigma that if you vote third party you are wasting your vote, then people would express their opinions truthfully and choose a party other than Republican and Democrat. When more individuals realize you don’t have to settle for one candidate, we will be a true democracy.

Countless people fought for us to be able to express our opinions during elections. The fact that people disregard this and still choose not to vote should be viewed as a serious setback for the United States of America. When someone chooses not to vote because they don’t want to take the time, they are disrespecting the lives of all the people who have fought and died for our rights. Hopefully, this is a trend that will dissipate in the coming elections once people realize the significance their ballot holds.  

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