Wednesday, October 9, 2013

True Democracy Includes The Right To Not Vote

I never thought I'd take the part of someone who doesn't vote, but I do.
It galls me that people are so lazy or careless they take no interest in who rules over them.
But I will not live in a world where one is compelled to vote.

I used to look to the Australia model and think it was wise.
In that fair land a voter who doesn't vote is fined. I was told by an Aussie mate this was to ensure that no one would ever be intimidated into not voting.
I accepted this at face value. I even thought it was okay.
I've even suggested we ought to do it here.
I am now heartily ashamed of that stance.

The true measure of democracy isn't being free to do what you want: it's being free to not do it.

Why the turnaround?
My husband and I visited Latvia, Lithuanian, and Estonia last spring. We met people who lived under the Communist regime, among them our tour guide Simona Vasilevskyte and her mother, Ona Sagevičienė, also a tour guide.
One evening in Riga Ona Sagevičienė's tour intersected with ours and she joined a few of us for dinner.

She told us stories of her life under Soviet rule.
Drunken college students* sang a song one night about how Lithuania would one day be free.
They disappeared.
A man she was in University with was usually drunk and he never seemed to do any work. It was commonly believed he was there spying on the students.
He had few friends.
Ona Sagevičienė

This brings me to elections.
On election day the ballot was ready and waiting for you to post. If you didn't, then you were never seen again.

I sat across a table from a woman who had friends and acquaintances disappear. It chilled me to my marrow.

We have no such worries here. We are free to ignore elections with no repercussions.
That is freedom and I will have it no other way.

In a final note there are those who say they don't vote as a gesture of protest.
Not voting is an exercise of freedom, not a protest.
While I'd rather you voted, and I will be casting my assorted ballots in the upcoming general election, if you don't want to, then you have my full support in this exercise of our freedom.
In a related matter here's a joke we heard about Soviet election life:
A citizen once opened a ballot and was told he couldn't do that.
"But I wanted to see who I voted for."
"You can't," the citizen was told. "It's a secret ballot!"


*I erred in the fate of the college students. Ona S. has told me via email the two successful third year students were dismissed, not disappeared.
They finished later through distance education.
I apologize for the error. We heard many stories of persons disappearing. I remembered this wrong.


Tabor said...

Sorry, Leah, but I think the situation is the issue...not the voting. In most instances if you absolutely do not vote you are giving your vote to the most popular candidate. Now if your life is at stake...that is not a democracy. But if those in a Democratic society do not vote...they will lose that freedom.

Leah J. Utas said...

That's what we don't realize, Tabor. You're right. But I do not want to live in a land where voting is forced.

messymimi said...

Voting shouldn't be forced. However, if you choose not to, i hope it is not due to apathy, or a feeling that the game is rigged (in a country where anyone can run).

Leah J. Utas said...

For any who don't vote I hope it is because they are exercising their right. Apathy irks me.

Chris said...

I agree 100%.

David Cranmer said...

100% too.

Leah J. Utas said...

Thanks, Chris and David.

solarity said...

It's too much like "Everything not forbidden is compulsory."

Mary Anne in Kentucky

Leah J. Utas said...