The Morality of Uninformed Voting

Friend and occasional guest blogger Bryce e-mailed me with a really interesting question tonight: If you were an academy member, would you vote for an Oscar category if you had not seen all of the nominated films/performances in that category?

My first instinct was to answer no. Of course not. How could I vote on something if I hadn’t educated myself on all the nominations?

But then I realized that I do that every 4 years on a vote that is WAY more important than the Academy Awards.

Every 4 years, I go to the polling booth and cast my vote not just for a president, but also for Congress and the Senate and local offices and judges. And every 4 years I look at the ballot and realize that I hardly know anything about the candidates.

It would be easy if I was a democrat or a republican, but I don’t vote along party lines. So the best I can do once I have the ballot in front of me is to vote for congressmen and senators of the same party as my presidential pick.

This year I did a little better than usual–I did actually research the local city proposals, so I made an informed vote for them. But what is the moral thing to do with the rest of the categories? Is it better to vote uninformed or not vote at all?


9 Responses to “The Morality of Uninformed Voting”

  1. I’d like to say not vote at all since it seems to be the correct answer, but I don’t think this topic should engender such one-sided responses. It’s way more complicated than that. Most people vote according to their party affiliations. If I could vote, I would probably follow that norm (no, I’m of legal age and yes I’m an ignoramus). However, I do recognize the importance in staying informed on ALL the candidates’ platform, which I applaud you for doing. Most people probably don’t bother to make their research, believing a candidate’s party is a strong indication of how the candidate’s views align with their own. It’s part laziness and part ignorance. It’s scary to think that obliviousness is what goes into choosing who leads our country, but it’s been done since forever and we haven’t messed up that bad, have we?
    With that being said, given that the Oscars are less complex than politics, I hope these voters have seen everything! And give all of the awards to Silver Linings Playbook (well, with some going to Django and Amour as well). 😀

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Would you recommend Amour? I haven’t seen it.

      Thanks for your thoughts on the national elections as well.

      • Not knowing your movie preferences, I’ll have to say no as far as recommending it. It takes an appreciation of foreign movies (my favorites) and the director’s style to love/get that type of film. It can come across as a bit slow.

  2. Renate says:

    I think it depends on how general the voting population is. In the case of the Oscars, voting is reserved to a select few, so we the public are tuning in to find out who was rated the best, not the most popular. I don’t want to know that more academy members bothered to watch Django than Amour, I want to know which they thought was the better film.
    In political elections, everybody (or nearly everybody) gets a vote, so the winner is the most popular person. Whether the popular vote is a good way of deciding who should be in charge is a matter for another debate. I think you have a duty to cast your vote in public ballots, even if you have no idea about the candidates or only know anything about a couple of them. The majority of people voting aren’t going to be making a completely well-informed decision, so if you don’t vote, you’re removing your small piece of partial information from the pool of voters.
    (I voted for Viticulture in the recent BGG most anticipated games of 2013 poll, despite not having done any research on the other games nominated in its category) 🙂

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Renate–Thanks for your comment. I think that’s fair to differentiate the two very different types of voting situations. And I appreciate you voting for Viticulture–I support uninformed voting on that one! 🙂

  3. Elaine says:

    I think I’m more concerned about the implication that you only vote every 4 years … instead of in every election.

  4. Michaela says:

    Personally if I didn’t have enough information or hadn’t educated myself about a candidate or a bill etc for political voting I would abstain from voting. So, I think that since these elite few get to vote for the Oscars they have no excuse not to educate themselves and watch the films nominated. If they are too lazy to do so then they shouldn’t have the privilage at all. If on the other hand it’s a case of work conflicts or just not enough time then they should either abstain or refer to peers who have not been given the privilage to vote (I did this once in a referendum as some people who would be affected were unable to vote). Voting is a privilage and even in the context of the Oscars it is still important.

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