Don’t Vote Ignorantly

Ilya Somin makes a case against ignorant voting. When I first started voting, I felt like I had to cast a ballot in every race, no matter what. I tended to vote party in races I didn’t know about. Now I will abstain from races where I don’t know the candidates or the issues. Ignorance is a good reason to not vote.

9 thoughts on “Don’t Vote Ignorantly”

  1. I tend to agree with you on this.

    For example, on my ballot I had candidates for the county’s Soil and Water Conservation board. I didn’t have a clue about who was good, who was bad, and who was the best candidate. I just skipped them.

    I will say that down ticket candidates have to fight harder to get known but that is their responsibility.

  2. In Washington we elect our state Supreme Court judges. Unfortunatly most the bad ones are running unopposed. I was very tempted to write in “None of the Above”.

  3. When the question is “voter ignorance,” I always think about that variously attributed quote that goes, approximately, “The problem isn’t that Americans know too little, but that most of what they do know is wrong.”

    When I review things said by people from both the left and right camps, who consider themselves “informed” and “educated,” I am astounded that both operate from sets of totally opposing “facts,” and both have selectively ignored or denied the relevance of anything that fails to support their worldview.

    We are fortunate anytime what True Believers believe, happens to be true; though that won’t necessarily be their reason for believing it.

  4. I’ve always voted in person before, but here in OR, its all mail in. I kind of liked it- it gave me a chance to look at the real ballot, identify the stuff I didnt know well enough, and get more information. Even if its light on content, I can find associations and experience that can lead me one way or another. For example, our county also had a soil and water conservation district vote. Not knowing either candidate, and considering neither had a campaign to speak of, I started googling them. In the end, I chose the guy that had the agricultural background (and an ag degree!) over the guy that was already a career local politicial from inside the metro area. And I got to do it all from my living room. One more caveat; hereabouts there is already a case bearing down wherein an election volunteer was finishing up ballots that had blank spaces (and it was for the Repubs, so the margin of cheat is really the margin of who cheats better). Just because you arent voting doesnt mean someone isnt on your behalf.

  5. There’s one exception I’d make to this policy. Even if I knew nothing at all about the candidates for US Senate and House, I’d still vote for the Republican. You could show me video of them standing in the town square taking turns biting heads off of kittens and I wouldn’t change my mind. Every Democrat we allow to be sent back to the Senate and the House is one more vote for 2 more years of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi deciding what legislation can be brought up for a vote, what amendments can be offered, what rules will be ignored to favor passage of disastrously bad bills and who gets to chair all the committees. It means, in all likelihood, at least 2 more years of the federal government operating without a budget regardless of who’s in the White House.

    Ideology and principled stands on issues are important to me, but not as important as our government having a functional legislative branch.

    1. Well, in that case, your vote for the person is really not that, it’s a proxy vote. In fact, like proxy stock holdings: you’re voting for that person to make one set of votes at the start of the Congress, for Speaker of the House or Senate Majority leader, the rest of the leadership, and for the rules. E.g. after Reid’s abuse of traditional Senate rules there had damn well better be a reckoning; if or rather when the Republicans gain the Senate they better not let the Democrats walk all over them, for their own sake as well as the country’s.

  6. Ditto. Did the same thing you did this morning. If I didn’t know, I skipped it.

  7. I’m with Wolfman on the mail in. I’ve always voted by mail in Colorado and it takes me over an hour to vote just because I am trawling the web for research on every candidate and law. It’s the one thing I like about mail voting.

    1. Or you can (hopefully) do what I did yesterday and type my info into the Secretary of State’s web site and get a PDF sample ballot. Heh, and for my father as well, we discussed the initiatives and propositions, and that then helped someone who he did business with in the morning.

      Voter ignorance about them can in at least one case be forgiven, our SOS deliberately screwed up the “Fair Language” explanation of a proposed reform of our execrable Missouri Plan for “nonpartisan” selection of judicial nominees.

      Which to bring back to the topic we hold near and dear, this last bastion of liberalism has nullified our crystal clear Castle Doctrine. Sort of a judicial version of Stalin’s “I don’t care who votes, I care who counts the votes.”

      Speaking of which, do you think Romney might lose your state by the margin of notorious and well reported this year Philadelphia cheating?

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