Richard Carnes: If ignorant of issues, don’t vote in Eagle County
“Ranking Senate Majority leader, Harry Reid …,” said the talking head on the TV.
“What difference does it make how they smell?” asked the female sitting close enough for me to hear, her face contorting in apparent disgust at having heard the statement.
Ignorance of words, naivete toward politics, and a general lack of common sense notwithstanding, what really bothered me was the fact that this young lady was certainly old enough to vote, and thus spurned me forward.
“Who are you voting for,” I asked, feigning to really care.
“Oh, definitely (insert your best guess here),” she proudly exclaimed. “He’s the man!”
Evidently, the aroma of her candidate of choice is not as “rank” as Sen. Reid. I briefly considered asking her what she was drinking, but deduced she would probably answer with the same predictable response sober.
So I ask, what is worse, a bad vote, a lazy vote or a vote born of blissful ignorance?
We are constantly bombarded with the premise that voting is a civic responsibility ” our American duty ” because democracy works best when everyone participates, yet having the right to vote does not necessarily mean it should be exercised. As an integral part of our freedom of speech, Democracy provides us the right not to vote as well.
Sometimes the most responsible act a citizen can do on Election Day is to not vote. By all means, stay at home, take a hike, go skiing, pay bills, read a good book, hang out in a bar, do your laundry, whatever, just so long as you don’t vote simply because you’ve been told you should.
You would be doing the rest of us a tremendous favor.
Repeated studies conclude that the higher educated vote more often than the less educated, which in and of itself is yet another classic argument for quality public education, as knowledge inevitably will make citizens better voters over time, at least in theory.
The more we vote, the better we get at it, I suppose.
So yes, although a highly subjective term, I am basically suggesting the “stupid” should not vote. Notice I am not saying they should not be “allowed” to vote, however, as that is a horrific throwback to the disenfranchising days of women and blacks.
But “stupid is” being as “stupid does,” we have to accept the fact that some stupid people will vote anyway, and the rest of us just have to deal with the sometimes unfortunate results.
With this in mind, I would like to point something out to help the not-so-informed and everyone else.
In each election with more than one position being contested and at least one or more ballot questions, the total votes for each will never equal one another.
Why is this?
Because informed voters, using the benefit of their knowledge about candidates and issues, will simply skip a candidate race or ballot question if they are not sure which way to vote. No ignorance, laziness, or guesswork involved, just a nice, well-thought-out, non-vote not being carelessly tossed into the wind to land wherever it may.
So for those of you uninformed folks who insist on voting merely because you think it’s your patriotic duty, keep that thought in mind while carefully studying the ballot in your little voting cubicle next Tuesday.
And for those others who are not even sure why you are in the cubicle in the first place, and might already be convinced Obama is an Arab Muslim or McCain is a third term for “W.,” then I respectfully ask you find something better to do next Tuesday, like clip your toenails or watch “Oprah.”
The rest of us can handle it just fine, but thanks anyway.
NOTE: The preceding opinions belong to Richard and are not necessarily shared by this newspaper, but for informed voting reasons, he thinks they should be.
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com
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