Voting is a privilege and a modern day mitzvah (commandment). I believe that it is incumbent on all Jews to vote in every country a or jurisdiction where we are permitted to vote. How can we consider this a mitzvah? The Talmud teaches us din d’malchuta dina – the law of the land is the law. We must follow the laws of the country in which we live. While there isn’t a law which states that we must vote, the right is available to nearly all adults over the age of 18 regardless of race, gender, religion, sexuality, socio-economic status, physical ability…. If we do not elect to vote, then we are not acting on the rights available to us under the law. Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Ancestors) teaches us lo alecha hamlacha ligmor, v’lo ata ben khoirn l’hibateil me’mena – you are not required to complete the work but neither may you desist from it. We must participate in the society and world around us, including voting.
Rabbi Deena Fox explicates the text in Talmud Arachin 17a on leadership, a discussion of whether leaders determine the characterisation of the generation or if the generation determins the leaders. Today in the United States citizens have the opportunity to help shape the character of this generation. Shape the next steps of our country – go vote!