Leading up to the American Revolution, one of the main grievances of the colonists was "no taxation without representation." This famed slogan referenced the colonists' belief that England was in violation of the Magna Carta and that in order for the government (the Parliament) to be permitted to tax them, the colonists needed to have representation. This meant of course, the right to vote.
In America's history, the right to vote has gone through a number of historic and contentious moments. Among the milestones are the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which stipulated that the U.S. could not deny or abridge the vote of a citizen based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
The next milestone that shapes our voting constituency today is the Nineteenth Amendment, which stipulated that the country could not deny or abridge the vote of a citizen "on account of sex." This of course, opened voting up to women, punctuating the women's suffrage movement of the 19th century.
The word "suffrage" is defined as the "civil right to vote" and looking back on history, we can see that this right is one of the most important of all for a nation's citizens. To have a vote means to have a voice, to be recognized as being a contributor, a part of one's country. A war was fought and many battles waged in order to earn that right for every person in the United States. Thus, when it comes time to vote, isn't it our patriotic duty to do so?
Some may argue that having the right the vote also means having the right NOT to vote. Perhaps out of protest, believing that to not vote is the only way to demonstrate that better is wanted for the country. That the present options offer no such solution and so, to not vote is just as important to the improvement of our nation as to vote.
However, what does "duty" mean? Most definitions will tell you that it's an action you are obliged to do. Thus, even if you are discontented with the options you have in an election, is it not still your "duty" to contribute to the end result? By voting, we certainly can do so.
Often during an election, you'll hear about voter turnout. The greater the number means the greater the interest. The country is said to be energized over a certain candidate or the future that awaits. If the number is low, it of course means that the nation has grown apathetic and one can also deduce, perhaps feelings of patriotism are on the wane.
Thus, to vote is a way to exhibit one's patriotism, as well as to support the country through tougher times. In short, to be a patriot means to remain loyal to one's country and given the fight that was fought in the past to secure us that right, it seems only "right" that we exercise it when we can. To in the end, represent.