Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for May: (5/4) Linda Norlander, (5/11) Connie Berry, (5/18) Mary Keliikoa, (5/22) Annette Dashofy, and (5/25) Rosalie Spielman.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Make Your Vote Count

In the United States, today is Election Day. As the political ads fade to silence, throughout the land citizens collectively sigh in relief. Thankfully, I live off-grid and so political phone calls cannot reach me; I don’t watch much television, so didn’t overdose on political commercials that assume I must be an idiot.

NPR, however, brought me news of a number of obnoxious political ads. The one that most upsets me urged a particular segment of the voters to stay away from the polls in protest. It isn’t that I’m against boycotts, because I am not. The women and men of Montgomery, Alabama who brought the bus company to its knees over segregation showed the positive power of such boycotts.

What is so pernicious about the approach of the ad is that the people who sponsored it didn’t suggest these voters should vote for candidate X because that candidate would better represent them. No, they suggested that the best thing these people could do to voice their concern with the last two years was to voluntarily disenfranchise themselves and not vote for any candidate.

Suggesting a strategy of withholding your vote makes as much sense as telling a young child that the best way for them to protest a smaller than desired piece of chocolate cake at dinner is for the kid to stomp off to bed without any dessert. That will sure show them, by golly.

My mother has proposed a voting solution when none of the candidates is adequate: ballots would have one additional box, none of the above. Checking that box subtracts one vote from every candidate. To win, a candidate must have the highest vote count and it must be positive. If all candidates score negative, the parties have to come up with new candidates until someone gets a positive vote.

Our system is far from perfect, but it is the one we have. Voting is a right, not a requirement. Unless you happen to be a white male who owns property, generations before us toiled and shed blood to earn your constitutional right to vote. Even if none of the candidates for a race meets your preferences, one is always closer to your ideal than another.

To make your vote count, you have to vote. Please do.

~ Jim


Ellis Vidler said...

Good post, Jim. I found that ad particularly offensive and a not-too-subtle effort to discourage voters unlikely to support their cause. Voting is a privilege and a responsibility.
Gotta go. I'm off to the polls.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, Jim! I just can't imagine the logic of not exercising the right to vote. Great post.

Warren Bull said...

I voted earlier today.

Pauline Alldred said...

I like your mom's idea but I don't think it'll ever be a reality. What amazes me is the arrogance of people who assume they know better than a group with whom they do not identify and so can tell that group how to vote or not to vote, in this case. No one knows for certain what another person's needs are and we should respect that.

Thanks for the post.

E. B. Davis said...

I hate political advertizing. Does anyone ever believe the ads? Like statistics, political ads skew facts and rewrite history without allowing rebuttal, spawning additional ads by the opposition. At least in this election, we had fewer pre-recorded calls bothering us. Voting and participating in the elective process is a precious right, but I understand when people are discouraged due long wait lines and biting advertizing. Of course, not voting doesn't get anyone into office. Thanks Jim.