Irony of Democracy

I tend to keep political views personal–meaning no rants on Facebook, no tweeting or hashtagging, however, I may throw in the occasional pin or two!

I’ve been contending the notion of exercising my right to not vote this election year.  I will not be sharing all of my reasoning here, what I am sharing is an experience I consider prudent:

At 7:25pm I pulled into my driveway, I paused, and shifted into reverse.  It was decided, I was going to go and vote.  I reached my polling station and walked in. The lines were manageable, yet there was a potency of marijuana, booze and stale sweat wafting throughout the air.  Horrified, no judgement as I myself had rolled in, fresh after a run.

Standing in line, ballot in hand, I recognized a couple whom I was acquainted with in the community.  They are about my age, I turned and addressed them, we exchanged common congenialities amongst acquaintances and continued standing in line.  I learned that she had voted earlier and was kindly, accompanying him.

Still waiting, he turned to me and asked what my thoughts were on the state proposals.  Gasp!  I found this question awkward {as I’m standing in line to vote} and politely circled around answering it.  Still waiting, she now turns to the table of volunteers and asks, ” so if he doesn’t know who to vote for or how to vote on some of the proposals can he leave them blank?”  The answer is yes, questions provide clarity, I’m glad she asked.  However, she then continues on to announce, “oh shoot, I wish I would have known that because I just went through the ballot and circled names”…right then my soul fizzled.

My mind began questioning, how many voters are actually INFORMED voters?

What percentage of registered voters, who on election day, exercise their right to vote, understand and enter ballots correctly?

I’m interested in the data of apathetic voters who show up to the poll and simply vote to vote. How many voters tackle ballots like standardized tests, in that, even if you don’t know the answer you’d better be filling in that oval, completely!

disheartened but interested.

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7 thoughts on “Irony of Democracy

  1. I was surprised by how many people came to the library, and asked me how to go about researching the different proposals and the the lesser known candidates (the judges, county clerks, etc…) While I am certain the majority of my patrons voted opposite from me, I was very pleased that so many of them were interested in making an informed decision based on his/her own values and not just going by what he or she heared from whatever news outlet he/she happens to listen to, or by a random selection based on whichever name happened to strike his or her fancy. Hopefully next time you will feel more enthusiastic about going to vote. It is important, but I am not judging your hesitation. XOXO Mer

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  2. I’m happy to hear this Mer! I was shocked and internally embarrassed about the oval filling sans information. I do believe voting is important {and am glad I did}, appreciate the non-judgment, would expect nothing less from you!

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  3. So sad. And the real irony is that I have now been called “stupid”, and blamed for “ruining our country” on FB (albeit offhandedly) based on my well informed and researched vote. I do, however, semi-understand the difficultly in being a well informed voter. I spent a good chunk of time reading over the ballot proposals along with multiple articles debating the pros and cons of each. By the time I was done, my head was spinning.

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    1. Thanks for sharing the side of an informed voter, Kevin! It’s true that you mention understanding the difficulties (news sources, proposals, debates) of a researched vote, especially with the State of Michigan’s proposals, there were many! The constant stream of political ads and bantering of pros and cons becomes almost nauseating. I’m glad that you raised this point!
      I wish that the voter whom I referenced would have left blank what she was unsure of instead of randomly selecting a name or checking yes/no, because the question was on the ballot.

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  4. Incredible. When I was in line, someone brought up about how there were so many proposals and it was overwhelming because of all of the ads. I mentioned that if they weren’t sure of something to just leave it blank. They said “oh, if I don’t know, I just vote ‘no'” and I again said “or leave it blank.” I think there was another “vote no” circle but at that point I didn’t feel like making them mad since we were going to be standing in line next to eachother for the next 2 hours.

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    1. Jen, thanks for sharing and for mentioning to leave what they don’t know blank, looks like you fulfilled your civic duties x2 on 11/6! It’s that darn ingrained standardized testing, if the oval is there FILL IT IN :)!!!

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  5. Note**to remember:
    Just came across this meetup group that had a voter education party before the election!

    The idea is simple:
    Find a spot to have a party or gathering. Invite some friends. Study up and present on a ballot initiative or local race. During the party, everyone fills out the DIY Voter Guide we’re providing, which you can bring to the polling booth as a cheat sheet. And we figured some drinking doesn’t hurt, so we’ve got a simple drinking game you can follow along with too.

    If you’re into it…
    check out our post on GOOD with links to the downloadable toolkit, DIY voter guides to print out, and some helpful resources for studying up. http://www.good.is/posts/who-and-what-the-f-are-we-voting

    And for quicker reference:
    Click here to check out the toolkit: http://bit.ly/SncspS
    Click here for the the DIY Voter guides: http://bit.ly/SncDSl

    Cheers! America is lucky to have citizens like you.
    http://www.meetup.com/GOOD/Los-Angeles-CA/821982/

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