Why is voting so important?

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The citizens of the United States of America are fortunate enough to live in a democracy, a chosen system of government that gives each citizen a say about the laws and leaders they want to be in power. Clearly, that is a simplified definition of democracy, and the voting system is much more complicated than just a “majority rules” scenario; however, citizens do and must have a say. It is their job to take advantage of this right that many other countries do not have. Why is voting so important? It is important because it is a fundamental right.

The Right to Vote

America Ferrara, an American activist and actor, put it best when she tweeted prior to the recent midterm elections, “The air we breathe, the water we drink, who can love freely and who cannot, who is safe on our streets, who has access to justice, education, and a dignified job–is all impacted by policy. Your life is political–accept that.” She is absolutely right. American lives are political, whether they like it or not. They were granted universal suffrage, and it is their job as American citizens to treat that right with respect.

One of the biggest problems in modern democracy is the concept of rational ignorance. Rational ignorance is defined as the deliberate choice of a person to not pay attention to certain information because its costs (time and effort) do not outweigh the benefits. Rational ignorance in relation to voting implies that American citizens do not take the time to educate themselves to be informed citizens because they do not believe their vote will affect the outcome. Therefore our nation becomes filled with people with little political knowledge and a low ability to objectively evaluate what they do know.

Being an Informed Citizen

With this being said, the reasons as to why it is so important to vote actually go hand-in-hand with why being an informed American citizen is so important. It is unrealistic to assume that every person has the same access to information on politics, but one must be as informed as he or she possibly can to combat this ignorance. There are many easy ways to get reliable information, such as reading the newspaper, watching the news, downloading news apps on your phone. In fact, here are three free apps you can easily download today to be a more informed citizen.

  1. NPR One

  2. NYT Now (New York Times)

  3. iCitizen

American citizens are involved, so be informed and involved. With the right to vote, it is a citizen’s duty to become informed and to be able to make rational and educated decisions in the election of those who are chosen to represent the U.S. Each vote makes a difference in a democracy, and it is the citizen’s job to make sure that his or her vote is one that can be believed in and supported wholeheartedly. When the question is asked, “Why is voting so important?”, the answer should be an obvious one.

Emilie Cieslak

Photo: Flickr

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