For the past three years of my life, Election Day has been by far my favorite day of the year. The smell of it is a mixture of patriotism, coffee, and large doses of adrenaline. And each year, my routine of waking up at 4:30 AM, poll-watching until 7:00 PM, and catching the election results at the Westin continues to be extremely worthwhile.
Not only is it my favorite day because I get to be around people who love America, but also because I watch those people come out to the polls and speak about their beliefs. I see people who might not otherwise be out there campaigning or speaking their mind, yet come to the polls because they know they can make a difference. Election Day is the day where America unites, not in the person we vote for, but in the act of voting itself.
So if Election Day is my favorite day of the year, then why am I against the President’s proposition of mandatory voting?
1. Free Speech, and the lack thereof, is actually legal.
For starters, Election Day is wonderful because the people who vote usually take time out of their busy schedule to do it. They have either researched or have reasons why they want to vote for someone. There are also people who have busy schedules who do not partake in voting. Some are apathetic, some don’t think their vote will count, and some people just haven’t had the time to inform themselves.
Whatever the reason be, people choose or choose not to vote because they can decide what they want to do. According to Yahoo!, 43 out of the 50 states had less than half of their eligible voters actually vote in 2014 — Indiana with only 28% coming out. The seven states that had more than half of their eligible voters vote never reached any higher than a 59.3% turnout. Ya’ll: If you want to vote, please do! If you don’t vote, that’s up to you.
2. Mandatory voting will make elections like a high school popularity contest.
Remember the high school superlatives? Most athletic, best smile, most popular? I don’t know about your school, but with ours, you could vote for whoever you wanted, but only the popular people won a superlative. I personally didn’t know anyone who went around to each person on the soccer team testing their agility for most athletic, or who walked up to everyone in school to determine whether or not one’s smile could be deemed the best. People may not have even known what the contenders looked like, but gave them the vote because of name recognition, not actual achievement. Mandatory voting could easily cause the same result for elections.
Most people tend to inform themselves on things they are interested in, whether it be sports, news, or Harry Potter. This is the same with people who vote and don’t vote. People who choose to vote usually try to inform themselves at least some before they vote. People who choose not to vote might not see the need to inform themselves about the candidates because they are not going to vote for them anyways.
Therefore, if everyone who is eligible is mandated to vote, then over half of the people voting will most likely vote because they recognize a name instead of researching the track record of the candidates. This means we could end up electing highly unqualified people to make our laws and run our country, just because half the people who are voting really don’t care or want to. Guys, there are many worst case scenarios that can happen with mandatory voting: we could potentially end up with any famous person over 35 as president. Introducing the 46th President of the United States, President Kardashian… umm, no thank you.
3. The downfall of our entire democracy is a possibility.
If you take away Joanne from Illinois’s freedom to remain silent and mandate her to vote, what are you going to take away next? My right to remain silent when I’m arrested? My right to opt out of unnecessary things? Will I be forced to sit in a room with Lena Dunham and discuss election issues? Will I be forced to talk about race when I buy my coffee? Oh wait, the last one is already happening… but guys, really. Don’t take away my right to speak freely, and I won’t take away your right to remain silent. Forcing people to do something they don’t believe in is completely wrong. We have a democracy where we the people elect our officials — and we have the right to choose whether or not we want to partake in that process.
What happens if I’m mandated to vote and the two people I can vote for are both completely against everything I stand for? Dearest Obama, I love elections. I love voting for people who I think will make a positive impact in this world. However, I don’t believe in mandating people to do things they don’t want to do. If the actions they are not taking are not harming anyone, then why mandate it? (P.S. – I could now go into a huge rant about the relation to Obamacare, its unconstitutional mandates, and why it is leading to the downfall of America, but I’ll save that one for a later time.)
4. And finally: Did your cheese slip off your cracker, or do you actually want America to fail?
I’m not exaggerating — well, maybe a little. But if this thing becomes a popularity contest, then we could have Hillary in the White House again. I’m against Hillary for many reasons, but seeing that she continues to be the leading Democrat despite numerous scandals that involve our national security, making everyone vote could let her actually win. She has the name recognition. The Clinton name is already famous because of her husband who was President (who was also impeached by the House and had a few other news headlines — cough, cough, Monica Lewinsky).
As someone who loves campaigning for and electing people who I believe will help change America for the better, I believe that people who vote without being informed will be forced to make a poor decision. Voting ill-informed is like grocery shopping while you are hungry. You don’t know what you want, you are forced to make a decision, and it rarely ends well. Is that what we want? A bunch of people being forced to decide between a pack of candy bars and a basket of fruit? One thing might look good at the time, but in the end, one needs to understand the potential effects their decision can have in the long run.
In conclusion, I do want everyone to vote, but I want everyone to be informed about who they vote for. I want everyone to vote, but I want them to want to vote, or at least not vote against their will. If you are too busy to inform yourself, turn on the news radio or download a podcast about candidates and listen to it on your way to work. If you think your vote doesn’t count, know that it does. The 2014 Senate election in Virginia came down to less than 1% of the vote. If you are apathetic about it all, I urge to find what you are passionate about- if it’s your job, family, or fishing, the policies of certain candidates could affect your life. If you are just totally against voting for some reason, well that’s your choice. You do you.