Democrats & Liberals Archives

Get informed!

That should go without saying, but just about every election year around this time I hear some commentator, while decrying the apathy among the electorate, declare something to the effect of “I don’t care how you vote, but it’s important that you vote.”
What a terrible message!

In an ideal republic, the public is well-informed, participates, and votes. But not voting is far better than voting in ignorance. I've heard people who should know better admit to voting without sufficient knowledge of the candidates or issues. One fact which I fear is not made sufficiently clear at the voting booth or on the ballots is:

Abstaining from voting in a particular race DOES NOT void one's votes for other races.

I now am on the permanent absentee roles, and wouldn't have it any other way. No longer am I surprised on election day by a race, resolution, or initiative that didn't receive the publicity it deserved before the election. It's still tough to get enough information to be confident about choices for every judgeship, so I'll still occasionally abstain on a case by case basis, if I don't have sufficient information to make an informed decision. But it galls me that I'm abstaining while hundreds who have been cajoled into voting as their civic duty are guessing who to vote for on the flimsiest information, and feeling proud of themselves for doing so.

More galling still is a press, both print and television which devotes more time to the philanderings of celebrities than to informing the public about the many local choices which will confront us on election day. We deserve better.

Posted by Walker Willingham at October 15, 2004 5:21 PM