Voting in Norway is so easy, an American could do it

If you’re a Norwegian reading this, then here’s my message: if you don’t vote, you are absurdly lazy, and should be ashamed of yourself. Get your shit together!

I used to think Norwegian voter turnout was impressively high. I was happy that so many people took this responsibility seriously. In 2013, just over 78 percent of the eligible population voted.

I’m significantly less impressed now. Given how unbelievably easy it is – I mean, really, a moderately informed toddler could do it – that number should be 99 percent.

I wanted a taste of the thrill of Norwegian voting, so I visited a pop-up building. They were nice enough to show me some ballots and the voting booths. If you’re registered somewhere other than Oslo, you get a one-page ballot. It has 21 parties listed. You mark the party you want, and hand it in.

That’s it.

Now, if you’re voting in the area where you’re registered, it’s a little different – you actually have to pick up a pamphlet from the correct party name within the booth, make sure it’s the right one, and hand that in. Although if you want to live dangerously, you don’t even have to double check it.

You can’t walk ten minutes without hitting an election building. We have one smack dab in the middle of campus. I’ve walked by it approximately 5,000 times this week.

It’s odd to see an election so restrained, polite, and as one international student said to me, not a «polarizing, violent dumpster fire.» Well put. That refreshing civility isn’t something we international students actually get to take part in though. There’s a singularly helpless feeling in following an election over which you have no power whatsoever, not even as one vote in a few million.

If you’re a Norwegian reading this, then here’s my message: if you don’t vote, you are absurdly lazy, and should be ashamed of yourself.

Did you know that in the US you actually have to opt in to vote? You have to register ahead of time. In most states, on the day of the election you go to your closest voting place, and wait – sometimes for hours – to fill out your ballot. And there isn’t just one thing to decide on, because we don’t have a parliamentary system; we also have to deal with initiatives, county-level issues, representatives, and state-level positions. During last year’s election, I had to vote on no less than 35 separate items, meticulously researching each and every person, issue, and position. It’s exhausting, and is just one of the many factors that explains our 55.5 percent voter turnout in 2016.

Here, the state literally does everything for you except make your selection. You’re registered. They’ve set up cute little orange-and-white houses for you to comfortably make your choices. If you’re in your own district, you don’t even have to write an X!

Today is the last day you can vote in advance, which is especially important if you’re registered somewhere other than Oslo. I know it might seem like voting doesn’t matter, but it really does. In 2013, only 63 percent of voters age 20 to 24 voted. Seriously? It takes five goddamn minutes. Get your shit together, and go vote. Right now.