The right to vote in a self-governing society also recognizes that electing not to vote is an option in appropriate circumstances. The election to abstain from voting is arguably the most valuable tool we have to preserve the integrity, value and meaning of the voting process. Here are ten good reasons that I may choose to not vote:
- I have a conflict of interest or am under undue influence. One candidate is my brother-in-law and my firm does business with the other candidate.
- I’m not knowledgeable on the issue and other voters are better qualified to make the decision. Delegation of voting responsibility is a powerful tool.
- My work requires impartiality. (I used to feel this way when my writing more directly covered political issues related to health care reform).
- I am engaged in an act of peaceful civil protest. Sometimes not voting conveys a loud and clear political message.
- I do not consider myself a stakeholder in the particular issue. Some I feel that the issues just don’t involve me and so even if I do legally have a right to vote, it makes more sense not to vote. The important point in this argument is that it is my internal perception, rather than the factual circumstances as evaluated by a third-party, that determines whether I should or should not vote.
- I don’t like any of the candidates or choices and could not in good conscience cast a vote for any of them.
- I just don’t care. Lack of motivation make the effort necessary to vote is a valuable and practical sign that perhaps I should not be voting at all.
- I haven’t yet decided. Just because it happens to be election day does not automatically mean that my mind has completed the internal processes necessary to make an appropriate vote.
- It might be perceived that I have a conflict of interest. I don’t really, but I don’t want to create a false impression that I voted based on nepotism or some other unsuitable basis. In this case, I am justified in abstaining from the vote in order to protect my own reputation from examination and the perception of fairness of the overall process.
- The question is out-of-order in procedural process or time. Just because other people have placed an issue up before me to cast my vote on a given day does not mean that it is appropriate for me to do so if there are other unresolved issues preceding the vote. This seems to happen surprisingly often as a political strategy in local government elections.
Recent suggestions about a mandatory voting requirement in the United States insults my intelligence and would hope that other voters would be equally incensed. Mandatory voting represents a disregard for the voting process and a significant step backward in the evolution of a self-determining society.