Should voting be mandatory in Alabama?
From the moment we asked this question, readers have been ripping into Chuck Dean for suggesting we be required to vote. The chief reason? We don’t trust anyone else to exercise that right.
Chuck suggested that it’s the least we could do to honor a veteran, so we asked a veteran what he thought about mandatory voting.
We also checked in with an Australian ex-pat living in Alabama to get her perspective on the mandatory voting in her home country.
Travis Thomas (@travisdthomas) served in the United States Army for 6 years including 2 tours in Iraq. He is currently a law student at Samford University Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham.
Many veterans died to preserve the values that make America the shining beacon on the hill. As a veteran myself, I do not believe that the best way to honor the sacrifices of veterans is to punish people who choose not to vote.
Voting is a right. And just like our other rights (the right to bear arms, the right to free speech, the right to free assembly) you have the right to exercise them or not.
Sure you need a license to drive and hunt and fish. But those are privileges not rights. And, for the most part, the mandatory licensing process serves as a revenue generator for the departments that oversee those activities. High school education is mandatory but you don’t go to jail if you drop out.
If you want to honor veterans, ensure that everyone who wants to vote is able to. And if you chose not to vote, that is also your right.
Alison Haynes is an IT Project Manager in Birmingham, AL; she was born in Melbourne, Australia but lived in Sydney until she moved to Birmingham in 2003:
Growing up in Australia, I always knew I was required to register to vote on my 18thbirthday. Approaching that date, I debated whether or not I should register. If they don’t know about you, you can’t get fined but it takes death or moving overseas to get removed from the registry. I decided to do my civic duty and registered to vote.
Over the years, I never developed much of a care for politics and found it annoying to have to give up my Saturday to go stand in line and vote. Once, there was a big federal election so I knew I had to vote. What I didn’t know was that there was also a local election the week before. As a result, I had assumed that they advertisements in my mailbox were for the federal election and not the local election. A few weeks later I received a $50 fine. When you force your citizens to vote, you have a large number of people voting without the appropriate knowledge as to who would be best to lead the country.
Leaving Australia, and based on my prior experience of not knowing about the local election, I decided to be removed from voter registration. I do have the option to vote “absentee,” but I don’t keep up with politics in Australia, so it made no sense for me to add my two cents.
In America, I have seen some interesting things. First of all, you have those who care a lot and take the time to become educated on the candidates and vote for who they see as the best suitable candidates. I have also seen those who will vote one way or the other, just because they have always voted that way; but, that doesn’t mean that they are the best candidate for the job. You also get the others who just don’t care to vote… At least in America, if you go and vote, you have an opinion that you will stand up for.
Mandatory voting doesn’t mean that you will have more people engaged in learning about politics; it just means you have more people who don’t know who they are really voting for, deciding who should get into office.