By not voting, are we discarding the privileges of democracy?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the privileges of living in a democracy is the right to vote, and certainly those who do not vote are "discarding" that privilege; however, it is their right to do just that, if they wish. That is the way a democracy works; however, people who do not vote also lose the right to complain about the results of an election (though this is a figurative loss of rights and stops no one). Obviously the election outcome (the numbers, if not the candidate) would have been different if they had voted, so their votes would have mattered. 

The Fifteenth Amendment ensures American citizens the right to vote.

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Unfortunately, not everyone sees the need or importance of voting, but there are some good reasons why the citizens of a democracy should exercise their right to vote.

Voting is a way to effect change. The leaders of our communities, states, and federal government are the people who can and should speak for us, so voting someone into office who believes many of the same things you makes your voice louder and more powerful. If we are concerned about issues that lawmakers can change, we have to elect the lawmakers who want the same things we want. 

Voting is a privilege thousands of people have died for, and not taking advantage of that right, bought with the blood of many, is rather an insult to those sacrifices.

As long as our country has existed, there have been people who didn’t want us to vote. 

There have also been people, not just soldiers, who have been willing to die for us to keep this right. Voting honors their sacrifices.

Voting ensures that those who cannot yet vote have a voice and are cared for in the best possible way. Voting for effective local school board members, for example, helps maintain effective schools for our children. This is also true for anything that makes life safer and that offers the next generation opportunities to succeed. Our voices must speak for them until they can speak (vote) for themselves.

Silence implies consent with those who govern, and people who do not exercise their right to vote lose their credibility when they want to speak out on issues that matter to them.

If you don’t vote for what you believe in, others will--and you may not like the outcome.

In addition to the right to vote, two other rights in a democracy are the right not to vote and the right not to have to disclose who you voted for--or whether you voted at all. While not voting is certainly a privilege afforded by a democracy, it is certainly a wasted opportunity for those who do not vote to have a voice in their community, state, and country.