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Wednesday October 4, 2000

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Not voting is not a smart option

By The Wildcat Opinions Board

Groups of activists are not lacking on the UA campus. But activism is typically supposed to bring about greater involvement and positive results for the community at large.

The League of Non-Voters, however, has different goals in mind.

After beginning in August, the League has been distributing propaganda on campus in order to convince students not to vote.

The League claims that by voting, citizens are accepting the falsely-claimed authority of the government.

This point of view is inaccurate - and somewhat ridiculous - for a number of reasons. First of all, the basis of democracy is that constituents are able to voice their opinions in order to maintain or change the status quo government. By encouraging people not to vote, the League of Non-Voters is undermining one of the most important powers that citizens possess.

The League of Non-Voters does not propose an alternative to not voting; it merely states that by not voting, society at large can make known their dissatisfaction with American government.

Given the variety of reasons people have for not voting, from no time to no information, it may not even accomplish that.

Unless people vote, there is no way to change what is wrong with government.

The League's activities are particularly harmful on a college campus filled with young people. Considering how low the voter turnout is for people in the 18-24 age range, there is absolutely no need for a group like this to be reinforcing what is already harmful to society.

Furthermore, by undermining the power of the vote, the League of Non-Voters is essentially saying that they do not like the democratic process, period. Unfortunately for them, democracy is the current system of government in America, and while it is far from perfect, it tends to work fairly well.

True, people with money often have a great deal of power. They can help elect certain people to office through campaign contributions, and they can donate money to causes they believe in.

But groups without a huge bank account can still have a great deal of power. Labor unions, for example, represent people who are not particularly wealthy but have historically been immensely powerful, simply by uniting and voting.

It seems that the League of Non-Voters is a group of jaded citizens who are upset that the government cannot represent every single person in the United States. What the League does not understand is that even though citizens may not belong to a majority, they always possess the right to vote, the right to organize, become involved in interest groups that represent them and influence government policy.

It is possible to unseat incumbents. It is possible to draft initiatives and referendums, get petitions signed, vote on them and influence state legislatures and Congress. All of this is based on the power of the vote that citizens in a democracy are lucky to have.

Without the right to vote, none of the other rights-to assemble and lobby government - would even be useful.

The League of Non-Voters is certainly gaining attention at the UA. But hopefully their efforts will backfire. Hopefully, UA students will realize that their message is wrong and go to the polls on Nov. 7.