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Right to vote? More like right to complain

Kiersten Beecher
Opinions Editor
klb8371@lhup.edu

America just concluded one of the most divisive presidential elections in modern history. The 2016 presidential race has officially concluded with Donald Trump as our president-elect. Trump won the election with 279 of the electoral college votes and 47% of the popular vote. For some, this is a major victory in the fight against crooked politicians, but for others it is the beginning of the end of the world as we know it. Whatever side you take, what I take away from this is that you believe in something. What I cannot tolerate however is people who decided to “sit this one out” and not vote, and still are all over social media, posting their rejoice or their despair.

Some people were excluded from voting by law by being convicted of a felony or some other criminal offense. Others were essentially blocked by the obstacles put up by new restrictions on voting laws in some states. These are people who may have loved to have the chance to have their voice heard in this election and could not. Meanwhile there are millions of people sitting at home on the couch watching the results of the election unfold without participating in one of the most American of rights.

The US Elections Project estimates that 128.8 million Americans cast a ballot in 2016, out of 231 million eligible voters — a turnout rate of 55.6 percent. Almost half of eligible voters chose to not contribute to the election process. While it is still too early to have an exact count for voter turnout, if these numbers are true, it is the lowest voter turnout since 2004. 2016 was projected to have one of the highest voter turnouts in recent history thanks to many millennials finally being of age to vote.

If you didn’t vote, you have NO RIGHT to complain about the result of this election! You chose not to contribute to this and so you were not a part of this decision process. You didn’t say anything so you can’t say anything. You can use excuses like you had work or were out of the area, but there are absentee ballots for that particular reason. You can say you couldn’t fully support either candidate, I understand that it is like being in the middle of a rock and a hard place, but you cannot rejoice in or bash the president elect. You were not a part of the decision process even though you were eligible throughout the entire process to have your voice heard.

Yes, there are real obstacles when it comes to voting, like long lines and restrictive voter ID laws. But what is also likely to have played a role is pure disinterest and apathy. If you are going to be outspoken about politics all over social media, you need to practice what you preach and get out there and try to make a change in society. If you really cared about the policies that affect everyday American life, then you would have been out there with the rest of us.

For women and minorities in America, people have quite literally given their lives for you to have the right to vote and you have effectively thrown that sacrifice out the window by declining to partake. You were given a right, a right that many people around the world would die to have. You have the right to have a choice in who leads your country. If you choose not to exercise that right, then you have no right to complain or rejoice in the outcome of this election that you were not a part of. I would be ashamed to look Susan B. Anthony or Martin Luther King or any other individual who worked SO hard for ALL Americans to have the right to vote, in the eye and tell them that their sacrifice was wasted, because people just didn’t care enough to go out and vote.

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