Encouraging the Unenthusiastic to Vote


By Kathryn Wolper

Even though the current presidential election may cause some to become disillusioned, everyone should still vote. (Courtesy of Flickr)
Even though the current presidential election may cause some to become disillusioned, everyone should still vote. (Courtesy of Flickr)

As Nov. 8 draws near, many Americans are growing weary of the endless news cycle following Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The “he said, she said” of this election, coupled with an intriguing combination of fiery passion and apathy, is making voters on both sides of the aisle and everywhere in between anxious about the day that will decide the nation’s fate for the next four years. What terrifies me more than the sometimes ignorant and often hurtful vitriol spewed from impassioned supporters of both candidates are the scores of potential first-time voters who do not feel connected enough to either candidate to vote.

These conscientious objectors aren’t uninformed or uneducated. They are disillusioned by politics and empty promises. Maybe there was a candidate in the primary that young voters could see themselves supporting, but the long, drawn out process has left them with undesirable candidates.

Underlying this choice to abstain from a decision, presumably, is a strong moral objection to both Donald Trump’s ruthless bullying and Hillary Clinton’s opaque track record. Many dislike Trump, but cannot support Clinton either. Whatever the reason, these young would-be voters are backing away from an important choice.

The right to vote has been fought for by countless suffragists throughout history. Even today, activists are fighting for the rights of disenfranchised voters and working to improve accessibility to the ballot box. This year I am eligible to vote in a presidential election for the first time, and it would be immensely disrespectful to the work of those who worked tirelessly to include all of-age Americans in civic activity.

We owe these men and women the boldness of choice. Even making a choice on a ballot that is extremely impractical, like writing in Mickey Mouse as a candidate, is a method of criticizing the process that produced candidates that one may not support. Voting for a third-party candidate is a way to make your voice heard and bolster a movement whose values you support.

Perhaps Mickey Mouse and Gary Johnson have the same likelihood of winning on Nov. 8, but your vote will show that you are one of many who are not loyal to a major party and will not support whatever candidates these parties nominate. Despite your objection, however, you should not pass up the opportunity to say what’s on your mind.

If you’re planning on voting and you feel strongly about your civic duty, encourage a less enthusiastic friend to do the same. Maybe he or she is still “feeling the Bern” and doesn’t want to vote because it’s not realistic. Maybe he thinks Jimmy Fallon would be a more level-headed and relatable head of state than Trump or Clinton.

These opinions are worth expressing. Exercising one’s right to speak in a public forum through voting is a responsibility that none of us should take for granted.