Are there certain behaviors best suited for a trained individual? To drive a motor vehicle we require an individual to demonstrate understanding and capability in multiple forms. One does not simply apply for a driver’s license and turn the key. Likewise we only allow certain people to perform certain tasks. A teacher must have a license and a police officer must demonstrate the needed skills.
Often these skills are documented by documents. A driver’s license is a government’s physical endorsement of one’s skills. In a sense the driver’s license communicates a single fact: “This person passed our test.” One’s skills will vary by the minute and police officers regularly launch interventions a la tickets and warnings to correct bad behavior.
And yet while many of our most important jobs in society require proof of capability one of our most critical does not. To vote is to participate in a democracy and in voting one is selecting another individual to represent one’s beliefs. A vote communicates a simple statement of “This person speaks for me.”
What type of documentation or proof of skills do we require to vote? None. The application to vote demands only that one is a citizen. Is this correct? Do the demands of picking a candidate and formulating a perspective on a topic demand a sort of test? Might literacy be a requirement to vote? After all, if one cannot read the ballot how can one possibly formulate a decision?
The Supreme Court has decided to alter how we register individuals to vote. States now possess the ability to make the process of voting not an automatic one. Many see any additional requirements to voter registration as movements to complicate the registration process for citizens. Of course any additional steps complicate a process and many individuals will likely fail to participate in their democracy because of these challenges.
While new steps have yet to be established, we can expect that many states will work rapidly to make them. This is unfortunate but highly likely in any system of popular representation. And while we may find both today’s decision and any as-yet-undeveloped requirements both sad and unfortunate, we remain bound to our duty as citizens. No matter where things fall and no matter how hard the process is, it is the individual’s duty to participate. To fail to vote is to fail as a citizen. No matter where the challenge stands and no matter how hard the process may be, as a responsible citizen one must learn each complication and battle back to counteract the challenge.