by James Wallace Harris, Sunday, October 7, 2018
After reading, “Planning to Vote in the November Election? Why Most Americans Probably Won’t” in the New York Times I wondered what were the real impediments to voting for most people. Generally, about one-half to two-thirds of eligible voters don’t vote. The article pointed out in the 19th century sometimes over 80% of the eligible voters did cast their ballots. Why do so few votes today? This pie chart is truly sad.
Generally, we hear lame whining about not having the time and other obligations on election day, but early voting should eliminate any such excuses. No one should wait until election day if they have early voting opportunities.
Nor should registration be an issue. Many places around the country allow for online registration. Just visit Vote.gov and it will direct you to where you need to go. That’s an easy to remember URL. It will redirect you to USA.gov/voting for more information and a link to your state election site where you can find sample ballots and early voting information.
One thing that probably confuses some people are sample ballots. They can be huge because they often include all the voting options for a county and not just the options you’ll see in your voting booth. My state has solved that problem by offering an app, GoVoteTN. You give them your name and zip and it finds your voting precinct and exact ballot. See if your state has such an app too. This app also tells me who all of my current elected officials are, something my memory can’t do anymore.
Seeing the ballot is where the real difficulty beings for most people I think. There’s a lot of names and offices to consider. If you’re a party diehard it’s easy to just go down the list and vote the party line. But if you actually want to evaluate every candidate that’s work. The effort it takes to study the options is what probably puts off a lot of people from voting.
This is where I wish the app had another feature. It would help the process tremendously if for each office there was a link to an exact job description, and for each candidate, there was a link to an actual job application. All the campaigning we see in the media is bullshit hullaballoo. The political process is one of manipulating the masses. I think every political office should be considered a job with detailed job requirements, and each candidate should be required to fill out an application with precise guidelines.
There are sites on the web that help research politicians. USA.gov has some general guidelines. Vote-usa.org will ask you for your address and then show you your sample ballot. For each candidate, it links to where you can find out more.
The last area of difficulty with voting is referendums. I find their language on ballots extremely confusing. There are three on my current sample ballot. Even with internet research, I’m finding them difficult to decipher. I’m not sure if two of them might have been recently removed by court injunctions. Referendums actually require a bit of study to vote correctly. I got a flyer in the mail saying to vote no as a positive. That’s just confusing. However, the flyer listed all the supporters of the no vote, and I trust them. Sometimes you have to vote with people you trust if you think they understand the issue better than you do.
While doing my research I found Ballotpedia which tries to keep up with all the voting and issues around the country. You can use this site to zero in on your local elections and issues. Ballotpedia also offers sample ballots that also include links to additional information on the candidates.
Voting does require some effort, but I can’t imagine it’s so hard that 109 million people couldn’t make that effort in the last presidential election. Has most of them given up on our political system? That would be depressing. And how many of them just ignore the news, civics, current events, and issues of our times?
4 thoughts on “Just How Hard is it to Vote?”
This is what I’m afraid of and people just won’t see the power they actually do have. We are our own worst enemy
Between Fake News and Alternative Facts resides Despondent Resignation. Too many Americans just feel their vote doesn’t count. Many feel the Game is rigged. Congress, the President, and now the Supreme Court are held in low esteem. Our System is broken. Government is supposed to protect us. With all this dysfunction, we’re on our own.
Thanks for writing this up – I’m pretty despondent about the elections and if we lose faith in that, well – what good is our democracy? – Sigh.
But I will vote! And just because I’m a party voter doesn’t mean it’s easy because California puts a bunch of propositions on the ballots – as well as nonpartisan offices and local measures. The voter guide is as big as a medium small town phone book what with other languages – 50 + pages? (And I’m lucky because I don’t have a voting place so I can fill my forms out at home at my leisure – then I drive to the closest voting place and pop it in the box there – feel like I’m a part of something. I get my sticker. lol!)
And then you get to the propositions which are confusing even for lawyers and they often end up in the court system or there’s the two proposition trick – Vote for Measure A and that’s fine if you also vote for measure B but if you vote against measure B it invalidates Measure A. And the text of “Save Our Rivers” seems to mean “Yes,” save them from environmentalists. lol –
I vote anyway. And it very well might be rigged in some ways – so what? I vote anyway! The US is now rated as a “Flawed Democracy” by the Economist Democracy Index. That’s right BELOW South Korea and above Italy. Spain is higher, Uruguay is higher, Ireland is higher, Norway and 20 other countries are higher. This is mostly because of our voter participation, but other factors count – Uruaguay has worse voter participation, but their political processes great and their civil liberties are in in good shape, plus, their government functions well. That’s not true here 😦
Gads – back to my historical fiction. lol –