Voting is not an obligation

Forcing people to vote is not only unpatriotic, it is idiotic.

Opinion by Gabriel Braunstein, Staff Writer

Throughout American history, we have always fought for equal rights to vote. However, California Assemblymember Marc Levine is now trying to make that right into a state-enforced task in an ill-advised bill.

Levine’s Assembly Bill 2070 takes the right of voting and attempts to make it an obligation. This causes a problem since amendments, such as the 15th and 19th, already give citizens the right to vote. AB 2070 would require California residents to cast a ballot (marked or unmarked), and if voters happen to decide to not submit a ballot, then they will face a fine with a price that has yet to be determined.

Other countries in which this bill is based on, like Belgium and Australia, fine people for not voting. In Bolivia, if people cannot prove that they voted, their salary can be withheld at the bank. The problem with basing this bill off of other countries is that their voting days are a holiday, while California’s voting day is on a weekday.

Assemblymember Levine wrongly believes in AB 2070, even going as far as to say, “Democracy is not a spectator sport — it requires the active participation of all its citizens.” He continued to state, “California is a national leader on expanding voting rights to its citizens. Those rights come with a responsibility by registered voters to cast their ballot and make sure that their voice is heard by their government. This is not a time to be complacent at the ballot box. My AB 2070 will ensure that the voices of all California voters are heard loud and clear.”

Currently, California has a 56.5 percent voter turnout, according to the World Population Review. By forcing everyone to cast a ballot, we are effectively doubling the number of voters there are and therefore doubling the amount of time it takes. Casting a ballot takes an average of five to 10 minutes and the average wait time in line is six minutes and 36 seconds. Most people don’t have the time to stay up to date with politics and understand what they are voting on. This means that there would be a doubling of the number of people voting, the time it takes to stand in line, and the number of people voting on things purely based on ads and other forms of media.

Ways to combat an overflow of physical ballots would be to try to come up with an online solution or an extension to the number of days in which we can vote. L.A county has already extended the number of voting days to 11 and, while it is in California, it is only one of the 58 counties in the state. The Iowa caucus is an example of an online voting system and, while it didn’t work perfectly but overall it could be a solution if not a step in the right direction.

Currently, there are two things that are certain, first is that how AB 2070 is right now it will not work, and second is that Krispy Kreme’s promotional in which you get a free donut for showing up with an “I voted” sticker will have to up its game.

“Democracy lives on. You get a free doughnut. Everybody wins.” Krispy Kreme said on their Facebook page.