On Voting

It’s a presidential election year. This means more people than usual are interested in politics in America. For some reason which I don’t recall learning in political science, more people vote in presidential elections than in mid term elections. Even though the presidential election in the United States is actually run by the Electoral College, which means that, your individual vote is worth less in the presidential election.

It could be due in part to voter fatigue. If people have to vote too often, they start to feel apathetic. We want choice but do we constantly have to be choosing things? I never understood this idea of being tired of voting until I lived in California.

In 2003, we have the Recall Election due to everyone including his own party hating the governor, Gray Davis. Due to the recall, and other circumstances, it seemed that we in California were voting every three months for something. Do we want the recall? Yes! Who do you want as the new governor? Arnold Schwarzenegger? Sure! And then it seemed other things came up we also had to all decide on as a state. And it got to a point where I began asking of no one in particular “Do you think someone else could decide some of this?”

Two years later we were still voting constantly. There was a mayoral election in Los Angeles. Then a run off election between two democrats. I admit, I had voter fatigue and I didn’t vote in the run off. I didn’t care if Hahn stayed or the charismatic Villaigosa won at that point.

I felt ashamed later. People in other countries put their lives on the line sometimes to vote and I couldn’t even be bothered to get up a little earlier to walk to the polls which were only a few blocks from my apartment. Of course, perhaps we could consider being like much of Europe that votes on weekends. Would that make more Americans vote? Or would be even more lazy as things like grocery shopping and laundry took precedence over our duty to vote.

For the most part, whether if I think something is important or not, I drag myself off to the polls to vote. I vote on judges, and ballot measures to allow zoning changes. At least if I vote, I can complain about the outcome later. And I think more Americans should look at it that way. Its like if you and your friends are deciding where to eat dinner. And you say “I don’t care, you deicide.” If your friends then pick the place that is super trendy but has awful food, you can’t tell them “I can’t believe you picked this place, my salsa tastes like soap!” You didn’t give other options or even voice opinions. You have to just sit there chocking down your soap salsa in silence. The same is true of the president, the mayor or the zoning laws. If you choose not to vote and are upset at how things turn out, you have to sit there in silence because you didn’t try to make things any different.

Even though it is a presidential year, and more people will vote. There are still lots of eligible people who will not vote. They will sit back and complain that there are no good choices or that their vote doesn’t matter. But in the end if you don’t even write in Mickey Mouse, you didn’t even offer up another option, by not voting you are saying “I will eat whatever soapy salsa is fed to me for the next four years.” Think about that when you decide whether to hit the polls or not in November.

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~ by fortuitousoccurances on September 6, 2008.

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