Non-voter guilt

FILE – In this May 28, 2020, file photo, mail-in ballots are processed at the Chester County Voter Services office in West Chester, Pa., prior to the primary election. Democrats are mounting a new effort to push back against a well-funded Republican campaign that seeks to undermine public confidence in mail-in-voting. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Reminders to vote have been everywhere — with stickers and stylized masks, with celebrity endorsements and catchy jingles, on every social media platform, and on websites and in newsletters.

If you wanted to vote, there was really nothing to stop you. In fact, there were several things there to make it easier for you. 

But, if you had no intention of voting, seeing all these reminders and urges from friends may have made you feel a little bit guilty.  

Brigham Young University student, Rose Harris, voted this year but hasn’t in the past because of a few things.

“I didn’t vote in the midterms a couple years ago just because I didn’t get registered and I was stressed about a lot of things.  The presidential election before that I didn’t vote was because I had been living out of the country for a year and was really informed and didn’t think I could make a decision on my own, and so I abstained. Do I regret that? Yeah, buddy.”

Most non-voters have their reasons, citing disingenuous feelings, not being educated enough, not having enough time to do enough research, and not feeling as if their vote  —at least for the presidential election — would matter all that much. 

It was insincerity that Kelsey Evans cited for why she didn’t vote this election. 

“It feels almost like it’s lying if I just vote for what everyone else is saying, what my family wants me to vote for, what my friends want me to vote for, so I just decided not to.”

It is important to remember that just as deciding which political candidate to vote for is each person’s freedom and right, choosing to not vote at all is a choice that should also be respected. 

“Like, I get it. There are a lot of reasons not to vote and a lot of misinformation out there that makes people feel like their votes don’t matter. But I really believe that’s not true, there are a lot of reasons people don’t vote, and I see that, but I’m like, ‘No! You don’t have to do that,’” Harris said. 

If these next four years don’t kill us, those who decided to not fill out a ballot this time around will have another opportunity next election  — though maybe none of us want to think about that right now. 

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