What is the definitive stance of Jehovah's Witnesses doctrine regarding voting? It depends on what point in time you are reviewing their teachings.
It is a conscience choice according to the November 15, 1950, issue of the Watchtower, on pages 445 and 446 in the article ‘Subjection to the Higher Powers’:
"Likewise where Caesar makes it compulsory for citizens to vote. After they have registered and when election day comes, they can go to the polls and enter the voting booths. It is here that they are called upon to mark the ballot or write in what they stand for. The voters do what they will with their ballots. So here in the presence of God is where his witnesses must act in harmony with his commandments and in accordance with their faith. It is not our responsibility to instruct them what to do with the ballot. They must act in accord with their conscience as enlightened by the study of God's Word."
23 years later and the Watchtower Society is providing this information to Jehovah's Witnesses:
The Watchtower, October 15, 1973, on page 627 in the article entitled: ‘Why People of All Kinds Are Becoming Jehovah's Witnesses’ it states:
"“You gave me the right answer to the first question,” said the man, “but you probably won’t answer the next one right. I am looking for a religion which has absolutely nothing to do with politics. Do you have anything to do with politics?” Informed that Jehovah’s Witnesses keep separate from all politics, not even voting, the man was indeed surprised. Eventually a Bible study was started with him and his wife. Now both of them are baptized witnesses of Jehovah."
The Watchtower, December 15, 1973, page 741 in the article ‘Earth’s Rulers for a Thousand Years’ states:
"They do not have the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand. That is, they do not have the identification as slaves of the state and do not lend an active hand in carrying on its worldly activities, often beastly. They do not run for political offices, or vote for political candidates."
For a Jehovah's Witness the above direction was to be applied to their life personally. Voting is clearly not allowed per the Watchtower Society if you were one of Jehovah's Witnesses at this time. Furthermore, this stance continued to be sustained even 13 years later:
The Watchtower, September 1, 1986 issue, page 21:
"They do not seek or offer compromises…To serve in the army, to vote, or to give the Hitler salute would have meant a recognition of the claims of this world as dominant over the claims of God."
To go against the directions of the Watchtower Society, the consequences would have been devastating. For the Elder's manual, Pay Attention To Yourselves and to All the Flock regarding the revision being used at that time (Copyright 1981) stipulates the following on page 149 under point '(4) Neutrality':
"Jehovah's Witnesses are neutral with regard to political and military affairs of the nations. They do not interfere with what others do as to voting in political offices, running for or campaigning for political offices, joining the military, etc. Since true dedicated Christians are "no part of the world," if one pursues a course in violation of his Christian neutrality, he disassociates himself from the neutral Christian congregation...treated as one disfellowshipped.”
Thereby, if a Jehovah's Witness was to vote when the Watchtower Society stated it was not allowed, it would be seen as an act of disassociating oneself and they would be treated as one disfellowshipped.
But wait, another 13 years later after the 1986 Watchtower article, new light shines forth from the Watchtower Society.
The Watchtower, November 1, 1999, ‘Questions for Readers’, on pages 28 and 29:
"How do Jehovah's Witnesses view voting?...there appears to be no principle against the practice of voting itself...As to whether they will personally vote for someone running in an election, each one of Jehovah’s Witnesses makes a decision based on his Bible-trained conscience and an understanding of his responsibility to God and to State...If someone decides to go to the polling booth that is his decision. What he does in the polling booth is between him and his Creator...There may be people who are stumbled when they observe that during an election in their country, some Witnesses of Jehovah go to the polling booth and others do not...in matters of individual conscience such as this, each Christian has to make his own decision before Jehovah God."
Their stance has gone full circle. They are back to their doctrinal position from 1950.
If you ask many Jehovah's Witnesses today, they may still believe that voting is absolutely wrong according to God and the Bible and they do not have a conscience choice in the matter. Indeed, they may believe that 'true Christians’ do not vote. After all, the Watchtower Society taught Jehovah's Witnesses for years that was the case. Nonetheless, the Watchtower Society has proven once again another doctrinal teaching in which they flip-flop on:
1950 - Conscience choice
1973 - Do not vote
1986 - Do not vote
1999 - Conscience choice
Furthermore, we should not forgot all the Jehovah's Witnesses who either lost their life in such places as Cameroon, Africa during the 1970's and 80's or were beaten, tortured, imprisoned, and starved for following what they believed is God's direction and stance regarding voting.
Does this type of doctrinal position read as coming from an organization exclusively chosen and directed by God? Would anyone want to be led by such an organization? These questions are important to ponder, especially in light of the fact that the bloodguilt and misdirection of the Watchtower Society is undeniable.
What Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught regarding a matter as being “the truth”, as in the area of voting can change to become something different and yet change again to a former belief. Not only do the consequences affect an individual’s freedom, following the Watchtower Society’s teaching can cost you your well-being if not your life.