The Vote About the Vote

In the US, Tuesday was election day. In the worst turnout in almost four decades, only 44% of eligible voters actually voted. This is bad. It compares, for example, to the over 66% of voters in India who showed up for their national election back in May. What good is a democracy if people don’t vote?

I was mulling this over today, and I have a question. This isn’t meant to insinuate that there’s any excuse for someone not to vote. I just want to know what people think:

Is it worse to vote uninformed than not vote at all?

I’m a little torn on the answer. On one hand, this is why countries have political parties. It allows people to ideologically align themselves with one party, allowing them to participate in a vote in a slightly informed way without researching individual candidates.

On the other hand…well, maybe this is personal, but I never feel good about voting on someone I know nothing about. Yet I almost always find myself at the polls, ready to vote, faced with a complete lack of information about many of the candidates.

Think about those candidates when you answer the question. I’m not talking about the president or the governor. I’m talking about a random judge or comptroller. Is it worse to vote on them uninformed or not vote at all? Is it better to leave those votes to people who did their research?

Of course, in an ideal world, we would all research all candidates in advance and vote with perfect knowledge. But that isn’t going to happen.

1 thought on “The Vote About the Vote”

  1. This is sadly a no-win situation (barring some societal ideal I’m not sure I’ll ever see in my lifetime). As it is, I think the vast majority of those that DO vote are highly uninformed. Those that don’t vote are hardly going to be an exception to that rule.

    Here’s the thing though. If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s the rather repulsive blend and indifference, ignorance, and resignation the overall citizenry shows year in and year out.

    I’m a political junkie. I don’t expect everyone to be like me (nor would I want that…it’s hardly a healthy obsession). But good lord, you can bemoan how rotten politicians are on both sides of the fence or say nothing you can do matters– or heck maybe you’re even complacent in your life and think everything is pretty groovy.

    But these people an unfortunate minority of us elect are bestowed great and genuine power that can yield true and very real impact on every corner and aspect of our lives. If someone cannot find it in themselves to participate in the political process, they should be ashamed.

    This is NOT, by the way, me saying that you cannot willfully abstain from voting at any given time. If you earnestly believe that the way to speak your peace in our democracy is to stay mum, than that is certainly your prerogative. But those of us that just ignore the seedy underbelly of our politicized world, or parrot tired tropes like the ones above to excuse their non-participatory role in our political system– they deserve reproach.

    As you said, in an ideal world, I would wish that everyone voted and do so well-informed. In a practical world, I just wish everyone would vote to show they care the tiniest iota about themselves and those around them and if you’re uninformed– hey, join the club.

    I would be far more at peace with the state of things around me in this perhaps too vast and polarized nation if I knew what was going down was because it was truly the will of the majority than to wonder what truths lie in the masses that cannot muster up the will to make themselves be heard.


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