To Vote or Not to Vote?

VoteTomorrow is November 4th, 2014 and that means mid-term elections.  In a democracy, should we expect 100% of eligible voters to participate, or does this work like surveys where a “representative sample” is adequate?  Here are the stats:

  • 206+ million people are eligible to vote in the U.S.
  • 146+ million are registered to vote
  • 131+ million voted in the 2012 Presidential election (far fewer vote in midterm elections)

Although reality shows like The Voice, Dancing with the Stars and American Idol do not publish the number of viewers who vote, they do publish the # of viewers, and each has approximately 100+ million viewers.  I wonder if their percentage of viewers to voters is higher.

When asked their reasons for not voting in governmental elections, here’s what  the survey says:

  • 17% are too busy
  • 15% called in sick
  • 13% don’t care (“not interested”)

With the current state of politics, it’s almost easy to understand how a person could feel that their vote would make a difference on Dancing with the Stars, but would not make an impact on the U.S. legislative process.

Do you vote?  (The question can be loaded, it’s none of my business and I never ask it in person  – only in this blog where it’s rhetorical).

Obviously the optimal situation is for every American to educate themselves on the candidates and their platforms, try to ignore all of the partisan ads and made an intelligent choice.  But given that this is rare, which is better:  a) to participate by entering the polling booth and checking off random candidates like you did on your math tests when you didn’t know the answers, or b) staying home and complaining about the winners?  If we decide not to vote, are we trusting the  voters who have done their homework to make decisions for us, or are we leaving the election in the hands of the bad test-takers who may or may not guess “correctly”?

I have one friend who brags that he has never voted; he says he finds that it just encourages the sons-of-you-know-what.  I have talked to others who seem to have found a happy medium:  they vote, but only for the categories in which they understand the candidates and their issues.  So, for example, they may vote for Governor and Congressional representatives in their district, but not for Judges or Secretary of State.

CAN individual citizens make an impact on government by voting?  If you do look for information, where do you go for impartial information on candidates and their stance on issues?  Do you have confidence that, once elected, they’ll be able to hold that stance or will they be forced to compromise their principals to get some work done?  What does an effective politician look like?  For even the most honorable public servants who enter office with the best of intentions, how much time can they spend affecting change and how much time must they spend worrying about getting reelected?  Not surprisingly, it’s easy for me to tie everything back to COMMUNICATION.  Not libelous campaign ads, but legitimately communicating the issues in a way that the average person can understand – it would be nice to see more of this.

As with most subjects, I have more questions than answers but I do know one thing:  tomorrow is voting day.



Source:  U.S. Census Bureau, 2014