This post was originally published in October, 2008. As we all make perhaps the most important political choice of our lives this week, I thought it was worth a repost. Please do not vote blindly. There is still time to research the key issues. Be an informed voter. Too much is riding on this election to be anything but.
I have, for the most part, avoided using this space for election commentary. However, I read a great piece yesterday that still has me thinking; “Should we be encouraging everyone to vote?”
Note the question is not, “Should everyone have the right to vote?” The question is, “Should we be encouraging everyone to vote?” The point of the article was we should not be pushing the masses to vote; instead, we should be encouraging voters to educate themselves on the issues, the candidates and where the candidates stand on the issues. A fully present voter is what we really want in the booth.
A voter – yes, every single voter – impacts history. Do we really want history shaped by someone who bases a vote on gender bias, skin color, untruths about war, welfare, social security, or the financial markets? Do we want someone to affect history based on something they read in an untrue, but widely circulated, chain email? Do we want someone to impact healthcare options or medical research based on ignorance?
The more I thought about this, the more uneasy I felt about the blanket approach to getting out the vote. Don’t pull the lever blindly and uninformed. If you don’t know anything about your local government issues, or the choice of local judges on your ballot, it would be better to not vote on that issue or candidate, that to make a choice based on a whim, gut feeling, party affiliation, or something you think you saw in a campaign ad.
Of course, the better choice is to be an informed voter. Being fully present to the issues at hand and the candidates running for office means making the better choice for you, your family, your community and our country. You still have time. Go to your local Board of Elections (online, search for “county name” “state name” board of elections) and read the ballot ahead of time. Then take a little time to research the issues and the candidates.
We all have the right to vote, but none of us should vote in ignorance.