I get it. I used to be just like you.
What tripped me up was the wording in the Constitution
Technically speaking, the 26th Amendment does read “The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older…”
But those guys who wrote that amendment… yea, they worded it wrong.
Voting is not your right.
The word right implies that there is a choice.
It is your right to choose who you vote for. Just as it is your right to freely speak your mind. Or to choose where to go for dinner. Or who to date. Or what football team you support.
These are rights.
But the actual act of voting is not a right.
It is a duty.
For those of you in the “it is my right and it is my right NOT to vote” camp, try this shoe on for size.
You live in a country. This country is safe and wealthy and a leader amongst other countries. Your country is a place of incredible opportunity. People are able to speak and write freely. You are provided a good education and have the ability to choose what you want to do for work. If you want, you can easily start a business and advance your life economically.
Your country is a place that people from other countries flock to to for a chance at a better life. There are no wars in this country’s land. Every night, you fall asleep under the safety blanket of the world’s most powerful military.
Your country’s culture is consumed the world over.
Your music is listened to and your films are watched and your sports teams are followed by people who live thousands of miles away.
Your country is a place of creativity and innovation. The place where some of the world’s brightest minds gather to work and create. Your country is a place that, if given the opportunity, millions of people from around the world would pay to live in.
Your country provides you with all of the basic necessities you need to survive. Without thinking, you wake up and have access to clean drinking water. Your roads are paved and your children’s schools are free. There are even people who come and take away your garbage once a week.
You, for the most part, live a decent life.
And in return, you have this “right.” It is this thing your country asks you to do, more or less, once every two years.
People have died so that you may have this “right.” Wars have been fought to preserve this “right.” Your fellow citizens, past and present, have received some serious ass-whoopings while fighting to achieve this “right.”
Your “right” is to vote. To select the people who will best lead and guide your wonderful country in the future.
Go back re-read through those paragraphs. Does the word “right” seem to fit?
Didn’t think so.
It’s because voting isn’t a right. It is a duty, plain and simple.
Now, this post is for everyone, but I am digitally looking every millennial and Gen-X’r in the eye. We need to step up guys. Our voter turnout numbers are pathetic. In the 2014 mid-term elections, 20% of voters between the ages of 18-29 voted.
In the 2018 mid-term elections, things got better. The number jumped to 36%, which was the single biggest increase for a demographic group ever.
But there are still 64% of eligible voters who aren’t voting.
The 30-44 age demographic was not much better. In the 2014 mid-terms, only 30% of these voters actually showed up to care. In 2018, that number jumped to 50%. Again, nice progress, but there is still a lot of work to do.
You see, we all like to think that our skipping out on voting is not that big of a deal. That our individual vote doesn’t matter that much. And yes, if we are splitting hairs, your single vote will not likely be the deciding factor in any election.
But that’s the thing….
It’s not about you.
It is this collective focus on individualism, on the importance of me, that is one of our country’s biggest problems.
In our need to feel special, that what we do has to matter, we become blinded from seeing the bigger picture. From recognizing that sometimes, it’s not about us. It’s not about how we feel or what we want to do.
It’s about stepping up and being a part of something bigger than us. About doing things, even if they don’t do anything for us personally.
Voting isn’t fun. It isn’t glamorous. It isn’t exciting. There is no financial incentive involved. You stand in line for an hour and punch a few buttons and walk away with a sticker.
It’s like pulling sentry duty in the military.
Ask any soldier, past or present. Sentry duty is just about the most boring part about being a soldier. It’s no fun to stand guard all night. It’s boring and cold and often feels really unnecessary. But it needs to be done.
So throughout history, soldiers have done their part and stood guard. Not because they wanted to, but because it was their duty.
Just as it is ours to vote.
“E pluribus unum.” Out of many, one.
Out of our many individual, insignificant votes, we collectively come together to create one giant sentry. A giant sentry that stand guards over our country. A sentry that protects our values and our actual “rights.” Both now and in the future.
So grab a helmet, step the fuck up and take a post.
It’s our country. It’s time we voted like it.
I don’t care who you vote for. I just care that you vote. I believe that there are more good people than bad people out there. I believe that if all eligible voters participate, at the end of the day, logical and moral decisions will be made.
Here are some tips to help you vote:
For all of my fellow digital nomads and expats out there, keep riding that big beautiful wave. Just make sure you take some time to vote.
Here is a link to Federal Voting Assistance Program – https://www.fvap.gov/. This site will help you to apply for an absentee ballot in your home state and vote from abroad.
All absentee voter registration forms must be postmarked by October 17th.
Your absentee ballot must be requested by November 1st and your ballot postmarked by November 6th.
NOTE: YOU WILL NEED A PRINTER TO COMPLETE THE REGISTRATION PROCESS.
For all of my homies in the United States, you can visit this site to register to vote – https://vote.gov/. Every state except for North Dakota requires that you register prior to voting.
Once you are registered, you simply need to find your polling place and show up on voting day with a valid ID. If you live in the US and do not have a photo ID, many states will give you a free voter ID card. You will need to visit your local DMV to get one.
If you want to avoid waiting in line at the polls on election day, you can vote early. Yep, you can fill your ballot out at home and just mail it in. This site – https://www.usa.gov/election-office – will take you to the election website for your home state. Once on your state’s site, you will have to do a little searching to find out how you can vote early. For many states, the process is the same as voting absentee.
And as famous Illinois politician once said, our country is “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
See you at the polls.
Sign up for my mailing list. No spam, EVER. Just good stuff.