Monday, October 30, 2006

Straight-ticket voting: A truly wasted vote

What's the point of being a voter at all if you don't even bother to consider every race and candidate on the ballot?

This past weekend someone I know pretty well told me that he couldn't vote for me in next week's election. It wasn't anything that he held against me: he even told me he thought I'd make a great member of the school board. But the fact of the matter was that he and his wife had taken advantage of the early voting because they would be out of town next weekend... and the first and only thing they had done when the got their ballots was to mark them as straight-party tickets. And since the school board is a non-partisan race, none of those candidates were voted for at all.

I like this guy a lot. But because he wanted to vote "conveniently" that's possibly two votes for me that I'll never see. Which doesn't sound like a lot but trust me: I've come to very much appreciate the value of every single vote that is cast in your favor. Especially in a race that has sixteen candidates in it: every vote is exponentially magnified in value compared to those cast in other races.

I'm not going to think any less of my friend and his wife: they're really good people. But they - and too many other Americans - don't value the right to vote as preciously as they should. If they did, they would take the time to both educate themselves on the election beforehand, and then carefully consider the votes they cast once they actually get to the poll. Voting a straight-ticket is... well, cheap and lazy. And in my mind, it's the only truly wasted vote there is. A vote for a "third-party" candidate, however little chance he or she has of actually winning an election, is vastly more valuable if made after sober consideration than is a ballot that's marked Democrat or Republican straight down the line with scarce - or no - thought at all.

Straight-ticket voting should be done away with. Because if a person is going to take the time to cast a vote he or she should be made to consider what or who exactly it is that they are voting for. I say that because the power of the vote is far too much to be entrusted to minds that don't want to use that power responsibly. Come to think of it, any identifiers of party affiliation should be stricken from the ballot too: make the voter think about each candidate as an individual person, instead of someone who's "worth voting for" only because they happen to have a "D" or an "R" stamped next to their name.

I'm not expecting any of this to happen though, at least not anytime soon. The two major part... excuse me the one ruling party masquerading as two can only stay in power so long as it can depend on citizens who are all too willing to take the easy way out when it comes to voting. If people were suddenly expected to vote for candidates based on actual merit... why, what good would it be to have the Democrat and Republican mechanism at all then?

I'm not writing this out of a sense of "sour grapes"... but as a candidate I do now have a much greater appreciation of this problem than I did before. And I felt led to share that on this page.