Voting is our lowest civic duty

Ramesh A Nagarajah
3 min readNov 3, 2020

I’ve often heard it said that voting is our highest civic duty. I would argue instead, that it is our lowest, as it requires the least from us.

It does not ask that we are informed, although ideally we care enough to be. It does not ask that we are educated, although we should all seek to be. Nor does it ask that we put the needs of the country ahead of our own, although perhaps we should. It does not ask that we all agree — in fact, it serves to measure the degree to which we do not.

There are higher civic duties — like service to this nation, whether in uniform as a member of the Armed Forces or local services like our first responders; or in community work like the volunteers working the polls today; or through the consideration of public good in the choices we make about our professional pursuits. The higher civic duties lie in giving up our time for benefit of causes bigger than us, or our money through charity and fundraising when it could be used for our personal wants. We find the higher civic duties in our prioritization of American issues, of those that affect us and those that don’t, through what we choose to watch, read, share, and discuss. Compared to these, voting is the task that requires the least.

Yet, it is possibly the most consequential.