Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years because he dared to defy South Africa’s Apartheid and fight for equality and the right to vote.
Aung San Suu Kyi, despite having been elected as Prime Minister of Burma in 1990, has been repeatedly held under house arrest as a political prisoner and denied the right to lead her country by Burma’s military dictatorship.
The People’s Republic of China, the world’s most populated country, denies its 1.3 billion (that’s billion, with a “b”) citizens the right to a fair electoral system. Sure, they get to “vote”, but their leader is “elected” to the position for life. One communist government, in it’s self-imposed omnipotence, effectively denies 1/5 of the planet’s population the right to a fair vote.
Don’t forget that there was a man once, nameless and without glory, who literally stood in front of a tank to fight for his right to equality. The very least the rest of us can do, who have had this equality handed to us so graciously, is to vote.
In the next month, two North American democracies will hold federal elections. Canada on Oct. 14th and the United States on Nov. 4th. Countries where the right to vote is seen as unassailable and and an integral tenet of democracy. Yet, significant numbers of eligible voters in both countries, inexcusably, just don’t really give a fuck.
People in other parts of the world have fought, sacrificed their safety, and lost their lives for a right that hundreds of thousands of North Americans don’t even take advantage of. In the 2004 Canadian election only 60.9% of eligible voters showed, the lowest voter turn out in Canadian history. In the 2004 U.S. election, only 60.7% of eligible voters went to the the polls. Even though this is less than Canada’s lowest turnout ever, this was the highest U.S. turnout since 1968. The average U.S. voter turn out, astonishingly, worryingly, is less than 50%.
If you are lucky enough to be a citizen of a country that recognizes your human right to vote, it is your moral obligation, to humanity and to your country, to avail yourself of this right. There is no excuse not to vote. None. Ever. You diminish yourself and the very ideals of equality and democracy by not voting.
In Canada, click here to make sure you’re registered to vote.
In the U.S., click here to make sure you’re registered to vote.
On election day, show up. Go online and read a few newspapers so you can make an informed decision. Do your democratic duty to maintain and energize the country that you’re a citizen of. Honour those who have fought and died in the struggle for something you are now given so easily. And remember the more than 1 billion people around the world who still aren’t afforded this basic human right.
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