posted 2012-11-21 21:12:33

The Lines Are Too Damn Long

Why I chose not to vote in this election  

Lara Berlyne

Staff Writer

“Vote! Let your voice be heard! Represent your demographic!” are phrases I encountered throughout the road to Election Day at Hunter College. NYPIRG feverishly pushed voter registration forms in each and every one of my lecture halls, and sent mass emails about the importance of casting a vote. The amount of young voters soared for this election, exceeding even the amount that turned in their votes in the 2008 presidential election. Around Hunter, some students had valid excuses for not casting their votes, including lack of citizenship, or missing the registration date despite NYPIRG’s greatest efforts. My reasons for not voting extend far beyond simply not having the paperwork to do so. My decision to abstain from picking the worst of two evils was calculated with as much effort, or more-so, than the throngs of people waiting to choose their country’s newest figurehead.

I remained informed throughout the campaign season, tuning in to heated debates filled with enough tension to easily turn into a WWE match, so I didn’t waive my right to vote out of ignorance. While I am highly indecisive, the absence of my ballot ran beyond the fact that I could barely decide what to wear each morning, let alone choose a president from two undesirable candidates. The lines to vote outside of Hunter College were enough to turn anyone’s stomach. Why should I wait in line to cast my vote for a candidate I don’t fully support? If voting is such a right, why is it such an unpleasant experience? The lines to vote were reminiscent of the ridiculous gas lines my family and I waited on in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. My resentment of waiting in any line is justified, as guns were drawn waiting for gas –why would I wait on another line again? Especially so soon after the horrific experiences myself and many others endured. Even my grandparents, who have voted in every election since they were old enough to do so, decided not to venture to the polls because they shuddered at the thought of standing on line once again for candidates they were unsure about.
New Yorkers were given the supposed “luxury” of choosing any polling location after the hurricane left many individuals out of sorts. The voting lines of elderly, parents and students alike shivering in the cold front deposited by Sandy’s satanic grips lacked all assemblages of comfort. Those who posted on Facebook that they had voted for the first time had my pity. I don’t think that it’s worth it to be kept outside waiting like an animal to cast their vote for a meaningless online announcement. Their statuses took a more pleasant tone than when they were forced into the same action- waiting in line - for gas less than a week earlier. Showing off their freedom to choose a symbolic leader may have garnered a few “likes”, but if Facebook fame is the reason why many voted, I fear for the future of our society.
My decision to not vote extended even beyond the fact that I had been sickened by the notion of waiting outside in the cold for several hours, but also because in our limited democracy, individual voices are rarely heard. The fate of the presidency is determined by the Electoral College, so when NYPIRG says that my vote will make an impact, I’m obliged to disagree. I also know that one of the reasons for which I was encouraged to vote was simply to make CUNY look good. But shouldn’t voting be a personal choice? Shouldn’t it be an expression of who you want to

be the symbolic figurehead in a country monetarily declining and technologically improving on a yearly basis? Whether one votes or not, it should be for themselves- not for an organization or network of colleges. Voting is a personal decision, and shouldn’t be exploited for the greater good of an entire demographic.
There were times when even my collection of assorted reasons for not rushing to the polls were not enough to combat the images of Mary Wollstonecraft that my brother often flashed across my face whenever I mentioned the possibility of not voting. While I respect and am grateful for her and the efforts of others for giving women the right to vote, I couldn’t bring myself to pick one from the two deadwood candidates. Obama, who has done little to make a difference despite his charisma and huge following, or Romney, an individual who is for restricting women and minority rights that Americans have fought so hard for in the past.

Waiving the right to vote is not to disrespect the fact that I have been given the option. It is because I respect my

right so much, that I chose not to under the circumstances. My disdain for the candidates, unbearable voting conditions and the exploitation of my vote to be used for an organization’s advancement turned me off. While I am content with my decision to not vote, I am glad that millions of others disagreed with me. If everyone felt the way I do about our suffrage rights, the polls would run as empty as our gas tanks!