Featured Image: Murdoch with Virginia Senator and Vice Presidential Nominee Tim Kaine. Jonathan Murdoch | Courtesy
I am Jon Murdoch, a Senior at Virginia Wesleyan University.
I proudly hold the positions of President of Young Democrats, Secretary of Marlins Go Green and the Membership Director of Hampton Roads Young Democrats.
It is my belief that politics are the best way to create meaningful change in the world we live in, and, as a result, I am invested in America’s political systems.
When asked to provide my input on the current voting process, my answer is, “It’s complicated.” Here is my explanation for why:
In order to have the best society to live in, everyone in that society must be involved in the lawmaking process.
However, this is not realistically possible, as most people are busy with their education, occupations and families.
So, as a compromise, there is a general consensus that the community appoints an individual to advocate on the behalf of the community at large in order to do so.
This process is generally referred to as the Electoral Process, where members of a given constituency place their confidence in an individual to do the best job possible for the community.
This is a bedrock of liberal democracy and a genuinely good thing to have in America.
However, this is never perfect. This ideal, where elected officials work on behalf of their constituents, can only be reality when the entire community places their votes.
Elected officials, who care about their own job security, will appeal to those who will keep them in power, otherwise known as the people who will vote.
In other words, if an individual does not vote, elected officials will not listen to their concerns, commonly leading to these officials passing measures that can be remarkably unpopular.
Over time, people that have been barred from voting have been enfranchised.
This has been enshrined in our Constitution, through the passage of the 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th Amendments.
Now, all American citizens, provided you are over 18 years old and have not committed a felony (in some states for some crimes), are able to vote.
Voting erases the barriers restricting the right to choose your representation.
Rights are only powerful when exercised.
But when key parts of the American people, such as college students and people of minority backgrounds, fail to uphold their civic responsibility to vote, it becomes an issue sourced from inaction by individuals, rather than from the government setting the rules.
The reason for this inaction will always be up to debate.
Some will claim that it’s an active result of measures meant to limit access to the ballot box, while others will claim that people are too lazy to vote overall.
Nonetheless, the issue driving a massive amount of problems comes from voter inaction and voter apathy from the constituency, rather than the laws acting as a barrier to voting.
However, laws can be passed to motivate people to vote. These can be potentially solved by the following actions:
- Provide a benefit to those who have cast a ballot.
- For example, $20 per election
- Similar to Australia’s method of mandatory voting, but with an incentive instead of a punishment.
- Provide a mail ballot for every voter in every election.
- Prevents people from not being able to vote by lack of transport or by employment cases where their job harms voting availability.
- Increase the value and accessibility of election information
- Provide easy to access examples of candidates; provide details on their stances and record on major issues.
- Make this information known to all voters through PSAs.
All elections are incredibly important, as they dramatically impact everybody’s daily lives.
Whether it is about your individual freedoms, community projects or the environment as a whole, the results you see in government are the direct result of your vote.
Despite it not being perfect, there is no reason to abstain from voting.
Jonathan Murdoch is a senior business major. He is the current president of Young Democrats and is the secretary of Marlins Go Green. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Jonathan Murdoch