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MacDonald: Didn’t vote? Then shut up

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

With the 2020 election results coming predictably sometime within the next week, the people of the United States must sit anxiously to hear the final tally. Whether you favor President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence or Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, you’ll see who won over the majority of American hearts soon.


With this upcoming presidential term, we seek things like de-escalation of social tension in the country and, most importantly, the end of the COVID-19 pandemic that has had absolutely devastating consequences due to neglect. 

Fifth-year civil engineering student Michelle Ondrejka drops off their ballot at the ballot box outside of the Lory Student Center on Super Tuesday, March 3. (Matt Tackett | The Collegian)

Yet those who didn’t take part in or try exercising their right to vote for a candidate in this election still sit anxiously and wait for the results. Those people, the non-voters, aren’t expected to have an opinion on who should preside over the United States as president-elect. In fact, if you didn’t vote in this election despite being perfectly able to, you’re wasting your rights as an American.

Now let’s be clear about what that means: This does not include those who are disenfranchised by a felony conviction, actively seeking citizenship and their rights or those who are underage. I am talking specifically about those who deliberately choose not to vote because they simply didn’t feel like it.

Whatever paralyzation on voting you feel by the tensions in this election don’t matter — you are given a right to vote for who you want to represent you in the government, and by choosing not to do so, you automatically relinquish that vote to someone who honestly doesn’t care about you. 

The importance of voting in the country cannot be overdramatized. According to, the original road to grant the right to vote to everyone in the United States was a long and difficult one. That is still continuing.

The 15th Amendment guaranteed voting rights to all men regardless of race, and the 19th Amendment in 1920 gave women the right to vote. American citizens sometimes wait years for their time to become franchised, yet today, people can be found proudly not exercising it. Being able to freely vote in this country is what makes us proud to be American, so you should use your ability to voice your opinion often. 

“The bottom line is that if you’re voting for someone who you believe will run this country effectively and fairly, you’re exercising the right of what it means to be an American.”

This administration is arguably one of the most socially polarizing of this country to date. It’s understandable that the moral standards of some people don’t permit them to choose a candidate based on a general understanding of them.

Unfortunately, there are aspects of both Biden and Trump that are extremely unfavorable, not to mention that these characteristics are often thrown around by opposing sides as reasons why they shouldn’t be elected.

This shows the failure of a two-party system in our representative democracy. Luckily, we have the ability to promote gradual change. I’ll admit that there is a stigma behind voting for a third-party candidate, and more often, you’ll also be told that you’re wasting your vote if you don’t vote for one of the two major political parties.


The bottom line is that if you’re voting for someone who you believe will run this country effectively and fairly, you’re exercising your right of what it means to be an American. There shouldn’t be shame that comes with that, and there’s no legislation saying you can’t. 

It’s absolutely mind-boggling that there are people who generally don’t feel like it’s worth their time to vote, especially when you consider what’s at stake. Don’t take what the 2020 election polls are telling you on who will come out winning the popular vote as future truth and a reason not to vote. If you’re one of these people, you probably like to coast on the hard work of your peers in group projects, assuming you know that they’ll do a good job, and you should feel ashamed about yourself for being so lazy.

When the election results inevitably come and the president-elect is announced, those who made the choice to abstain from voting don’t belong in the conversation of being surprised. If there are immigrants in this country that spend many years of their lives and, more often than not, thousands of dollars trying to get the opportunities that non-voters plainly avoid, then the chance for disappointment or glee by the final tally isn’t warranted by those who didn’t vote.

So, by now, if you’re reading this and can’t wait to go to a socially-distant, masked hangout with your friends to complain about the current election but didn’t bother getting to the polls or mailing in your ballot to do something about it, shut up. Your opinion isn’t valid.

Alexandra MacDonald can be reached at or on Twitter @alexandramacc.

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