Ramey: Maybe not everyone should vote


Tyler Coe

A voting station at Wilson Toyota of Ames on Nov. 8.

Lucas Ramey, Columnist

It seems with every election cycle there is a huge push to get everyone out to vote. This is especially true since the 2020 election had a record number of voters. It is stressed that getting more people to vote is essential to preserving the strength of our democracy, but is this true? 

It is frequently claimed that it is best if everyone votes, and this is truly what is best for our country. Millions of dollars per election cycle are spent trying to convince Americans to vote for a certain candidate or party. 

However, there is a legitimate discussion as to the question of whether everyone should be voting. I think the answer to this question is no, and the reason why highlights a true problem with our democracy.

I am not saying that there are people who shouldn’t have the right to vote, but rather some Americans should abstain from voting; we as a country have not done a good enough job of educating and involving our fellow citizens.

Voters who do not have a sufficient understanding of civics, politics and economics are not likely to justify their votes and positions with sound reasoning and evidence. How can this possibly be good for our country and democracy?

If someone can be convinced to vote for a specific candidate based on news articles from partisan groups or television ads, is it really their voice being heard, or is it just the work of manipulative politicians? 

If politics and voting are as important as many people claim them to be, then perhaps we should be spending fewer resources on encouraging more and more people to vote and more on educating the population about our political system. 

In high school, many – but not all – students are required to take economics and political science classes

However, I don’t believe this is sufficient. Being a good voter with valid justifications for a choice also requires at least some knowledge of public policy, ethics, sociology and others.

Being a well-educated voter takes time and effort, but it is rewarding and necessary for our country. 

It seems logical to expect that the more educated the country’s citizens are, the more effective our political system will become.

I think it is irresponsible for people who have not taken an effort to get to know their options to simply vote based on party affiliation.

This is, of course, not to say that voting isn’t extremely important. It is, especially in local elections, but it seems that not enough people are stressing the importance of understanding our political world.

So, how could we achieve a population that does not just understand the importance of voting but also responsible and reasonable voters? 

One thing we could do is require high school and university students to take more classes that aid us in our understanding of politics. We can also emphasize more discussion and debate in these kinds of classes. Talking and collaborating with others is necessary to understand something as complex as politics.

It is also necessary to change our attitude around the voting process. 

Instead of encouraging people to vote, we should encourage them to get involved in their communities by attending city council meetings and school board meetings. Activities like this will push people to invest time in our local community, which is arguably just as important as national issues and in larger-scale elections.

Some people may argue that we need Americans to pass a test to be able to vote or that one person should have more votes if they are a “better voter.” I don’t think this is the way to go. I believe we must foster a more responsible attitude towards voting and politics.