Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Choices

Worldwide and I voted today. We've voted early (can "earlyvoted" be far behind in the lexicon?) a couple of times now, and I've always been amazed at how empty the polls are. It seems like a waste of resources, although I suppose all of the workers volunteer their time. It's efficient, but it does little to restore your faith in the power of democracy.

Looking at the ballot today, I was amazed at how little I knew about the candidates for local office. Radio and television has been full of presidential and gubernatorial advertising, and the proposal to fund transit initiatives has garnered lots of coverage in the local newspaper, but we have received no literature, canvassing visits, or really anything, from anyone. The only thing I had to go on were the recommendations of the Independent Weekly (a local paper, which is hardly my ideological soulmate--skewing a little too young and radical for me). I struggled with the choices, before finally deciding only to cast votes in races that I knew something about--and I have to say, that as a relatively well-informed person (I think anyway) I fear that there is an awful lot of voting either along party lines, or based on flimsy rationales. Such behavior does not inspire me; it seems a little too tribal, more like Rwandans in the 90s working assiduously to determine if someone was hutu or tutsi in order to know whether to embrace them or slaughter them, than proper civics.

Last week's Economist has an article about Internet voting, and its increasing use around the world. Reading it, it occurred to me that it would be great to be able to see each candidate's "elevator speech" as part of the ballot, or if that proved unworkable, on one website. Though I lean Democratic, I can't bring myself to vote a straight ticket, and, even though I don't much care who our lieutenant governor will be, I'd love to give each candidate 90 seconds to convince me that it does matter. And if I could do that at my desk, so much the better.

Most people don't vote, and most voters know very little about the bulk of the choices on the ballot. Come on people, we can do better than this. Government of the people, by the people, for the people is important, at every level, and yet everyone seems too busy congratulating themselves to think about what seem to be huge and fixable flaws in the system.


  1. Off topic, but I am interested in early Wiz insights or early NBA insights, and a future "column" idea.

  2. Not a lot of optimism for the team FKA Bullets.

  3. I think you do not appreciate how relatively well informed those people who read local daily papers -- ie, the Raleigh News and Observer -- are compared to us, who do not. I also wonder about your assertion that "Most people don't vote" -- are you counting children, or, among eligible voters in a Presidential election year, is this really the case?

  4. According to the North Carolina Board of Elections, voter turnout in our state has ranged from 59-70% in the last 10 presidential election years (

    But also, only 70% of those eligible to vote, actually register( So the percentage of eligible people actually voting seems to be in the 40-50% range. And, sadly, the shorties remain disenfranchised, much to the OG's dismay, but I have not included them in my calculations.

    Admittedly I don't get out much, so I don't know if I'm overestimating my own level of electoral currency; but I do know that no-one has ever brought it up at the bus stop. I will conduct a poll on Monday, and see.