Pope Benedict XVI and Catholic Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke both recently characterized voting as a moral act with spiritual consequences.
The pope said that "decriminalizing abortion is a betrayal to democracy," since he believes the procedure denies rights to the unborn. Burke called voting a "serious moral obligation" and added that Catholics "can never vote for someone who favors absolutely what's called the 'right to choice.'"
If Catholics largely disregard the church's teaching (the 2008 Catholic vote for president went to pro-choice Obama), does what the pope says matter? Is voting a religious act or purely political?
Spirituality is relishing one's inner freedom as well as honoring the freedom of others. The state's responsibility is to see that individual freedom and rights are protected as long as they don't interfere with those of others. To choose a candidate for the state is not just one's responsibility, rather it is a moral and spiritual obligation as well. Religious authorities should refrain from interfering in the freedom of choice of an individual. Expecting people to follow a religious authority would not be fair on the individual choice for the process of democratic election; a religious diktat being utterly different from a spiritual assertion which rises from deep within one's conscience.