Go out and vote; It's your duty.

October 28, 2012 at 7:27pm

The only thing more important than whom Americans vote for this Election Day, is that you vote. Here at the U.S. Embassy in Australia, we’ve made it easy for every American living in Australia to register to vote by absentee ballot and make sure your voice is heard. But even if it were not so easy, we should all vote. While we often talk of our “right to vote,” voting is in fact a duty. Before America won its independence, people who lived in the colonies had no say over who would govern them. They fought a war to have that right – to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Many gave their lives to secure this right. And since that time, women suffragettes and civil rights leaders have also dedicated their lives to ensure that every American – regardless of race or gender -- could exercise their precious power to vote.  We owe it to them, we owe it to the United States, and we owe it to ourselves.    


Here in Australia, the importance of voting has become even clearer to me than it was back in the States. In Australia and many other democratic countries, everyone is not only expected to vote, but – if they don’t vote – they are fined. Like most Americans, when I heard about this rule for the first time, I wondered whether it was unfair that citizens should be “forced” to vote in their elections. But consider jury duty; which is mandatory in every state. Just as we all understand that appearing for jury duty – even if you can’t serve – is a responsibility of being a citizen, so too is casting a ballot – even if you decide to vote for no one.  If serving on a jury is one of our essential duties as citizens, how can it be that casting our vote isn’t also a sacred duty?  Indeed, voting is the fundamental act by which we empower our government to act at all. Because if no one voted, there would not be a government of the people, by the people, for the people; there would just be people taking power – precisely the world that our nation fought to prevent.  


So vote by or before November 6. Vote because others died to give you that right.  Vote because it is your duty as part owner of the United States of America to choose who will represent you as America’s leader.  And most of all, vote because it is what America is all about.