To vote or not to vote, that is the question

Montgomery College and the International Studies Club today hosted a debate between Dr. John Riedl and Dr. Nathan Zook, members of the history and political science department at the Rockville campus, respectively.

The men tackled one of the burning questions du jour: does your vote matter? Riedl took the side of voting, and Zook took the side against it.

Dr. John Riedl

According to Riedl, voting has an extreme impact on American lives and serves as a tool for the population to express their opinions to their government. In his argument, Riedl used the example of African Americans who voted for the first time in American history. “Black voters in the south elected new members of their state legislature,” he said, further elaborating that voting has aided the progression of African American representation in America.

Zook, on the other hand, argued that voting is a futile effort and that what all voters are doing is electing someone who may potentially be a liar and perform an about-face once elected. “As you vote and you believe that you are voting for the lesser of two evils, why not just send them a firm message and not vote?” According to Zook, no candidate is perfect. Voting for one specific candidate is basically a fruitless effort of voting for a potential evil.

Assuming that most people in the United States vote, Riedl conversely expressed that the system is not going to change, therefore it is up to the public to make the most of the current system and express their voices through the act of partaking in an election. “If you don’t exercise your right to vote, someone else who disagrees with you will,” Riedl said, and voting is a powerful way to make a statement, and if you don’t take advantage of this opportunity it could prove to be detrimental.

Dr. Nathan Zook

Zook countered this argument, feeling that politicians pay more attention to the needs of non-voters for the sake of getting their votes, whilst neglecting current voters. “Politicians reach out to the people that don’t vote. The nation of Islam was a pent-up group of potential voters. If Romney wins and you’re a Mormon, is he going to pay any attention to you?”

According to Riedl, “your vote matters” and “political involvement is started by voting” especially at the local level, where for school board elections votes matter. Your voice is louder with fewer voters involved, Riedl said, making voting a necessity and very important.