Back in 2006, I wrote a voting guide that is still applicable today. Since today's Primary Election Day (at least in North Carolina), I figured I'd share my voting wisdom again. The way I see it, voting is an important part of the US political system, and it's a part that many people don't participate in, especially when it comes to primary elections.
For those of you who finding reading such an lengthy voting guide tedious, it can be summed up with the following two slogans:
- VOTE RANDOMLY!
- STAY HOME: VOTING IS TOO COMPLICATED!
For more details, here's the guide again:
Don't forget that in the US, today is Election Day. Make your voice be heard. Go vote. If you're an informed citizen and have already carefully chosen how you will vote, then I applaud you.
But what to do if you've made it all the way to Election Day and you haven't bothered to inform yourself about the issues and the candidates, or if you simply aren't sure how you should vote on a given issue or candidate? Then you're the person for whom I'm writing up this handy election guide.
First, don't worry if you're uninformed -- most Americans are completely uninformed, but that doesn't stop
a lotsome of them from voting! Why should you be any different? Such a small percentage of people come out to vote, anyway, so it keeps politicians on their toes when uninformed voters show up and vote in unpredictable ways. The important thing is to show up and vote.
If you can spare just a little bit of time to research the candidates, your vote will be much more effective. Now, when I say "research," I'm not talking about finding all the information about where a candidate stands on various issues. I'm not even talking about finding out what the party affiliation is for any candidate. All I'm talking about is determining which candidates are incumbents -- that is, which candidates are currently holding office. Once you determine that, be sure not to vote for any incumbents. I don't care how good you might think your current representative is, the fact is that all government stinks, at every level, and the easiest way to change that is get everyone who's currently in office out.
What if you don't want to do the research to determine who's the incumbent? That's OK, too -- you still have two different methods you can choose to systematically make an uninformed decision. The first method involves voting "party line" or "straight ticket" and is very popular. The idea is to decide which of the two major political parties you hate the most and to vote for candidates that belong to the other party. Personally, I don't see much difference between the Republicrats and the Democans, so I'm not really sure how to advise you on choosing which party to vote against. I'm told that one of the parties likes to raise taxes to make sure that everyone is poor and the other party likes to poison the environment. *shrug* I guess you could just flip a coin to determine which party to vote against if you wanted to. The second method you can use to systematically make an uninformed vote is to always vote against both major parties. There are lots of third-party candidates out there, and they're all equally as crazy, so you pretty much can't go wrong with them. The disadvantage of this technique is that not all races include third-party candidates, so you might have to resort to a different method of casting your vote.
Often, you have the opportunity for a complete wild-card vote -- the write-in option. This option allows you to cast your vote for someone who did not care enough about running for office to actually file any election-related material. Write-in candidates rarely win, but choosing to cast a write-in vote allows you to have a little fun -- you can write in your own name, or the name of one of your friends, for example. As a bonus, the election counters really get a kick out of keeping up with all of the various people who get written in, so if you decide to cast a write-in vote, you might just make some government worker's day a little brighter.
The other decision you might have to make is how to vote on bond issues. This one is easy -- always vote "NO" on any bond issue. The reason to always vote "NO" is because bond issues always result in raising your taxes. No one wants higher taxes, so no one should vote for a bond. Actually, there is an exception to this rule. The taxes that are affected by bond issues are property taxes, so if you don't own real estate (if you rent an apartment, e.g.), your taxes wouldn't be raised by bond issues passing, so it's OK to vote "YES" on a bond issue if you want -- since you're not paying property taxes, you don't care if they get raised. It's not like it affects your rent or anything.
OK, drmellow's Election Guide turned out to be a little more complicated than I thought it would when I started writing it. So if all of this is still too confusing or complicated, you can always just go vote randomly. Choose people who have funny sounding names. Make it so that the marks on your ballot are in pretty designs. Whatever works for you, just be sure to vote.
Or, you can stay home like most people are going to do today anyway.