Why I Don’t Vote

Rachelle Ehrman

On February 8, 2012 I turned 18 and on February 9, 2012 my family started to pester me about registering to vote.

Now here we are, almost nine months later and I still haven’t registered and I don’t plan to register for or vote in this election.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I fully support democracy and appreciate the sacrifices that people have gone through to allow me, a female, to vote. I also understand that I am privileged because there are many countries where voting is corrupted or certain groups do not have the right to vote. But that doesn’t change the fact that our democracy and our government are currently broken and in this election, there is simply no person currently running for president who can put it back together.

How is our democracy broken, you might ask? Well there are a few ways, not the least of which comes right down to the actual act of voting itself.

Now, who can forget the catastrophe that was Florida’s ballot count in the 2000 election? Sure, that was a fluke, but it was a pretty big fluke for a country that had been hold-ing these elections for over 200 years. I personally think we should have had the whole “every vote counts” thing down pat by then.

These rare cases aside, I recently came across an interest-ing article in the New York Times that only furthered my satisfaction with my decision to not register. If I had regis-tered, I, as many college students do, would have registered absentee in my home state (which happens to be the great swing state of Virginia). Absentee ballots account for almost 20 percent of the votes cast in an election, and of those, about two percent are not counted.

Now two percent may seem like a very insignificant num-ber, but what if it was your vote? What if it was your voice that wasn’t heard in this election because you accidentally signed your name slightly wrong while rushing to mail your ballot in the Coop on your way to class? I will be honest; I had no idea that this was a problem until October 6 when the article was published, but that made me think harder about my decision.

What kind of country prides itself on this equal voting for all citizens but at the same time looks for ways to take your vote from you? I understand that this is designed to crackdown on voter fraud, but isn’t it better for one more person’s voice to be heard even if there is a possibility an-other person’s vote is fraudulent? (Like that old saying about how it’s better that 10 guilty men go free rather than one innocent man go to jail).

Voting day aside, there are other reasons I have for not participating in our political system, the biggest being that I do not feel like I can get behind either candidate.

Obama has not been a terrible president (we have had far worse), but his inability to work with Republicans is troublesome.

I work as a camp counselor and I have seen 10-year-old girls get over their differences and work together, so why can’t the grown men who run our country do the same? Plus, he has not made any great strides towards achieving a balanced budget like I think should be a priority.

I am also against the Obamacare bill. Now, I fully sup-port universal healthcare, and I want every American to have the same benefits that I have experienced over the years, but forcing people to buy healthcare is not the way to go. This was a major screw-up to me; if he had passed a more solid healthcare bill he would have my vote, but this failure shook my confidence a great deal and he will not be winning it back. Sounds like Romney is the way to go right? Well, no. One of Romney’s major plans is to approve the Keystone pipeline that runs from Canada through the U.S. for oil. I am adamantly against this idea.

Although it would create jobs, it would destroy major ecosystems in the areas it would run through and cause ir-reparable damage to the earth and the environment. I also believe that we should be trying to decrease our oil de-pendency, rather than increase it exponentially by giving ourselves this direct supply.

I would normally be able to put this aside and vote for him, but his stances on social issues are not something I ap-prove of. He opposes Planned Parenthood and gay marriage and supports Arizona’s model of immigration regulation, all of which I do not agree with. I could not allow myself to vote for a man that would strip people of their most basic rights like this (a reason I may never end up voting Republi-can even though I agree with some of their other ideas about government). In my mind, democracy should not be about choosing the lesser of two evils; democracy is about having someone you can stand behind to run the country in the way that you feel it should be run.

Neither Mitt Romney nor President Obama currently fulfills this idea for me. And though there is the option of third party and write-in votes, those are an even bigger waste of time since they have no chance of winning and they have no power. So until someone comes along with their head on straight who can both run this country and not let their personal feelings and opinions get in the way of legislation, I will not be participating in the great American political system.

Contact Rachelle Ehrman at [email protected].