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Words printed on the small sticker that the American government gives out to people who fulfill their civic duty on Election Day, or during the primary elections. The idea is probably to advertise the fact that other people still have the chance to vote, in case they'd forgotten... although maybe the sticker is supposed to be some kind of reward to those who vote. When I actually see someone wearing a sticker reading "I Voted", the voice in my head reads it with kind of a cartoony squirrel voice, and I lose significant amounts of respect for him or her.

I find it horrific that anyone would mock someone for voting, or think less of them for it. Whether you view voting as a civic duty or not, if you don't vote, you lose the moral right (if not the legal right) to object to the way we are governed.

The current system may be flawed, but if you just sit back and say, "But my vote doesn't mean anything. It won't matter," then you are implicitly accepting the situation. Take a stand. Cast your vote. But don't just end it there! Lobby against corrupt politicians. Write letters to your Representative! Volunteer some of your time to causes that you feel are doing the right thing!

A complaint voiced without action is worthless.

How hard is this to understand? Not voting is, for all intents and purposes, stating that you don't care which of the two (or three, or ten) options given happens. If you complain after stating that you don't care, you're either being hypocritical (you obviously DO care), or you're being needlessly cynical or fatalistic ("It'll get screwed up no matter how it turns out"). Either way, you're not being part of the solution, in changing your government for the better.
Do you expect to have your government made perfect by other people? If so, do you expect EVERYTHING to be handed to you on a silver platter?
I find it strange that anyone would find voting an inherently more politically active statement than not voting.

Why would I lose the moral right to object to the way we are governed, if I do not vote? I find the implied assertion a bit paternalistic. Why is my choice not to vote immediately taken as an endorsement for the removal of my rights? Can't it also be a political statement by itself? Regardless of whether noting or not voting constitutes a political statement, no citizen every loses the moral right to object to the way we are governed.

Here in Australia, we have a system of compulsory voting, where each and every Australian citizen of age and ability is legally obliged to cast a vote at every local, state and federal election, or face fining or imprisonment

Here in Australia, we also have two main political axes of power, loosely centred on the Labour party, and the (rapidly splintering) Liberal and National Party coalition. Both have policies that are rapidly moving towards the centre and have points that are unpalatable to many.

The Liberal/National coalition support the privatisation of state companies, most notably Telstra, the national carrier. The Labour party has also supported privatisation of national assets like the state banks.

The Liberal/National coalition shows no commitment to meet the Kyoto agreements on the reduction of greenhouse gases. The Labour Party has a inconsistent attitude towards environmental issues.

The Liberal/National coalition has introduced a Goods and Services Tax that places inordinate compliance costs on small business. The Labour Party promises more chaos to roll it back. In addition, the Labour party supports the freezing of tarrif reductions in the favour of self-interested lobbying groups.

The alternatives are not particularly palateable. One Nation, and Pauline Hanson, its head, supports a right leaning and vaguely racist rhetoric, in the guise of "equal opportunity". The Democrats failed to obtain their original demands on the GST and passed it through the upper house in compliance with the Liberal/National Federal Government.

IF I COULD, I WOULD NOT VOTE. But I can't. So I do.

It is often pointed out to voting Aussies that people in the (crazy, crazy) USA often view voting as a moral duty, on par with attending church. My view is that democracy is the right to choose as one wishes, including the option that says "none of the above".

Saying "none of the above" is of course a valid and important option in the popular expression of political opinion. However, it is not analogous to refraining from voting altogether - it is analogous to voting for a fringe candidate/party who stand sharply against the establishment even though they have no hope of winning, or at best placing an empty/blank/unpunched ballot in the ballot box.

A refusal to vote is a refusal to acknowledge the country's democratic system. It is quite simply a declaration that one is content to have the decisions made for one by others. If you don't excercise your most fundamental right (and duty) by voting, how can you be said to be a democratic citizen of a democratic country? Certainly not through the freedoms and liberties you enjoy - those immediately become priviledges which can easily be revoked without any grounds for appeal on your side.

I stroll calmly up to the makeshift-polling center. An older lady is talking another voter through the steps of filling out the registration form.

"I need you to fill out number one, two, four, five, and today's date is eleven-five-oh-two, and sign here," I overhear, as she circles the designated areas lightly with her blue pen, that will undoubtedly be accidentally swiped later today.

I focus my attention on the nearest volunteer.

"Hey, how's it going?" I inquire. He leans forward in his chair and rubs his bloodshot eyes.

"Ugh, it's been a long day. You wanna vote?" he asks as he pages through his list of names.

"Yes." I reply in an rather obvious manner.

"He's not on my list." He whispers to the white-haired old lady next to him. I guess he can't help me. I strafe right to the lady and she gives me the same speech I just overheard. I hate filling out forms, but this one was an exception. It was simple; name, address, birth date, and signature. I was done as soon as I took a seat. I handed it to the next volunteer in this assembly line of political helpers. They were efficient I thought to myself.

"Are you 18 years of age or older? Are you a U.S. citizen? Have you lived in Minnesota for more than 20 days?" the list went on, and I answered with a smiling, "Yes," to all of them almost before she finished the question.

I side step right again.

"What's your last name?" I oblige him. "T, huh? Lemme find the T's. T. . . T . . .ok, here's an open page."

He explained that they once again needed me to verify my existence. Easy enough, print here, sign there, and write my birthday over there. Finally, he hands me a voucher of sorts, a little slip of paper, that will finally grant me the ability to fill in little ovals with a #2.

I turn in my filled out ballot, which I sneakily wrote myself in for Mayor. And finally, I got what I came here for, my red sticker with white letters, I voted.

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