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Should voting be made mandatory in the U.S.?

Brett Scuiletti/ Columnist

Many people say “go out and vote,” but sometimes those same people need to watch their mouths.

There is a trend building steam – one that would abruptly and forcefully alter the political landscape so that it would be unrecognizable by most eyes.

The low voter turnout for elections in recent history has sparked tremendous interest in the creation of a new law, one that would make voting mandatory. 

Nations such as Australia and Brazil have made voting compulsory and other nations have recorded much larger voter turnouts despite no law mandating one to vote.

A law forcing citizens to vote, many claim, would produce a fairer and more balanced electoral decision, prompted by the fact that the vast number of people in the nation are voting. 

This speculation, however, has its faults because it does not take into account the people themselves.

Many Americans, both young and old, do not properly inform themselves on various issues, whether it is something as extreme as abortion or as redundant as tax fluctuation. 

This uninformed populace does not follow the news or political schemes and can be dangerous if they vote. 

Forcing people to vote who are unaware of the necessary information to make trustworthy decisions could be detrimental.

There is already a sweeping number of people who vote based on political parties, and that number would only increase if people who did not know election issues had to walk into a voting booth and choose a candidate by law.

Similarly, those who are informed on most issues and vote to better their nation would be grossly outnumbered and their vote would be worth much less than it would if uninformed voters remained away from the election booths.

Even knowing this information, some might persist mandating voting would make people actively seek out political news. 

Humanity, however, does not awaken just because they know that they have to do something.

After all, everyone in a math class knows that they have a test coming up and there are always a number of people who don’t study.

Another criticism might be that, if everyone has to vote, then everyone has a say in the election. 

This may be true, but everyone has a say in the United States if they are legal to vote right now.

If people choose not to exercise their right to vote, that decision is saying a lot more than a large number of people who are unaware of whom they are voting for and of issues they are voting on flooding polls to vote.

Choice is vital in a democracy; the decision not to vote because one is unaware of the news is just as dignified as the decision to vote because one is informed.

Both voting without knowledge of electoral issues and not voting because of laziness, even though one is informed, are unacceptable risks, but they are worth it to maintain a balanced political atmosphere.

In an ideal society, everyone capable of voting would know all the issues and then head to the nearest election site.

Unfortunately, ideal situations are often hard to come by.

Realistically, the U.S. is right where it should be, with those who choose to vote and those who choose not to. 

Choose to vote first, then choose a candidate, because skipping that first step could cause major problems.

But, if you wish to take the ideal step, choose to understand important issues, and then cast one simple, powerful vote.

Contact Brett Scuiletti at pendulum@elon.edu or 278-7247.