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Voting is both a privilege and a duty

June 14, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
If you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain, or so I've always thought.

I have cast my vote in every city, state and federal election since I was 18. Much of the time, I knew that my vote was unlikely to make much of a difference. That was certainly the case back in 2004, when I voted against the constitutional ban on gay marriage that over 75 percent of the people in North Dakota said yes to. Actually, I was surprised that 25 percent of the state voted against that amendment. I thought the "yes" vote was more likely to be in the 80 percent range. I have voted for both winning and for losing candidates, knowing full well that one more vote wouldn't decide the election. I have gone to the polls when it was raining and when I had far better things to do.

Voting is not a right I take for granted. One hundred years ago a woman in this state could not have cast her vote. There were women who marched and, in some cases, endured prison and force feeding to earn me the right to fill out a ballot. Some of my ancestors were undoubtedly denied the right to vote in other countries because they didn't own property or didn't belong to the right social class.

When I cast my vote, I also make a habit of learning something about the candidates and the issues I am being asked to express an opinion about. I read newspapers or attend public forums or talk to people about the issues. The vote I cast should be an educated vote.

Those are among the reasons I am puzzled why there was such a low voter turnout in the state last Tuesday. Why do you suppose people do not bother to vote?

 
 

Article Comments

(9)

MattRothchild

Jun-18-14 9:09 AM

Hey, PJ, if your source of information is so insufficient, then you need to seek out other sources. Don't allow stasis to cripple you. Be alive, not dead or moribund.

PoeticJustice7

Jun-16-14 11:15 AM

In the month leading up to this election, the MDN remained absolutely silent. There was, I believe, only ONE article -- and that appeared the day before.

At this point, MDN's readers know more about West Virginia's coal mining woes than they know about their own mayor.

MattRothchild

Jun-16-14 9:25 AM

But back to your original question: low turnout can be traced back to two things. They are apathy and ignorance. If someone doesn't know and doesn't care, you can hardly expect them to do something outside of their regular daily routine.

MattRothchild

Jun-16-14 9:24 AM

Huh?

Anyway, we talk too much about Civil Rights and all kinds of other "rights", but forget about the most important rights of all: Negative Rights. I would submit that you do, indeed, have a right to smoke marijuana (not that I think it's such a great idea or anything...). The point is that if you're not doing anything that violates the Negative Rights of someone else, you shouldn't be subjected to penalty or punishment from the State.

AndreaJohnson

Jun-15-14 8:10 PM

Did you vote anyway? If so, complain away.

Smoking pot isn't a civil right but I suppose the Supreme Court might eventually issue a ruling on marijuana use that applies to all of the states. I personally think law enforcement has bigger fish to fry than pot smokers and it should be at least decriminalized here, too.

redneck

Jun-15-14 5:30 PM

if federal law is higher then state law why is it ok to sell dope in colorado. again the vote doesnt count.

AndreaJohnson

Jun-15-14 2:26 PM

No, now we're talking about two different things. If the constitutional ban on gay marriage is overturned it will likely be because the amendment violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Federal law trumps state law and the majority doesn't always rule when it comes to civil rights. But the larger point is that I voted, even though I knew my opinion was in the minority and my vote wouldn't make much of a difference when it came to the outcome. It was important that I did the duty of a citizen and voted my conscience and let it be recorded among that 25 percent. The same thing could be said of bond issue elections or the Minot mayoral race. Voting is important even if you think it doesn't matter and even if your side is going to lose no matter what you do.

redneck

Jun-15-14 11:03 AM

the gay thing is just another example of a vote not counting. THE VOTE WAS NO. now live with it. if you doent like it move. just watch one more get changed and a vote not count.

EarlyBird

Jun-15-14 7:43 AM

I get turned off at how confusing they make the wording when it comes to voting. Half the time we don't know if we are voting for or against something. And as far as the party line voting goes that is ridiculous and is part of the reason no new folks can get into leadership positions.

 
 

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