Voting is a duty

Nelson Gomez, Staff Writer

“Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Nearly 149 years ago, Abraham Lincoln said these words in his historic Gettysburg Address. The question is – where are the people? Federal Election Commission reports show only 56.8% of the voting-age population voted in the 2008 federal elections.

There is no doubt that our government is heavily driven by elections. Legislators, governors, presidents, and other public officials are chosen by voters every November to lead their town, their state, and their country. However, people who don’t vote aren’t representing themselves, which lessens the value of having an election.

Several students agreed that voting is one of a citizen’s basic duties, and not simply a right to be exercised at will.

“Voting is a duty because you’re a citizen of the United States and we’re lucky to have the chance to vote, unlike a lot of places in the world, so it’s an insult not to use it,” sophomore Kelly Flaherty said.

Yet, citizens’ constitutional right to vote is being challenged and restricted even today. Voter ID laws passed in Pennsylvania were criticized and suspended by court order, fearing it would cause lower voter turnout and restrict minorities. Voter list purges in Florida led to registered voters being de-listed for having similar names as felons.

While New Yorkers – especially Massapequans – have little to worry about regarding the absence of voter ID laws, list purges, and other restrictions, it is still worth noting that there are Americans whose right to vote is taken away by these actions. Consequently, it is still important to classify it as a right in order for people to defend their right to do so.

“I believe it’s [also] a right because those who are denied the right to vote will typically sue over the fact that they’re not allowed the right to vote, for some reason,” said Mr. Bachman

There are also those who believe that voting is simply a right, and that people should be able to vote when they wish without it being compulsory.

“I think that it’s a right to vote. We were built as a republic where everyone is represented. If a person chooses not to be represented, then that is their choice,” junior Natalie Gramegna said.

The ability to vote cannot be simply categorized as a right or a duty; it is both. Fundamentally, suffrage is a right that can be fought for if ever taken away. Yet, it is also a liberty guaranteed to all citizens of the United States by the Constitution that can be used at will.

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