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Is An Uninformed Vote Better Than No Vote? 1048

ras_b asks: "I don't pay attention to politics at all, and so I will not be voting in today's elections. My family has been telling me that this is a mistake and I should vote anyway, partly because I have slightly conservative views which agrees with their political outlook. My reasoning is that since I am totally uninformed, I shouldn't vote. I don't want to vote Republican or Democrat, only to find out later I totally disagree with something a candidate stands for. So, here's my dilemma and my question: Is an uninformed vote better than no vote?" This issue is touched upon in a posting by Ezra Klein, of the The American Prospect, who disagrees, arguing against a similar assertion by Greg Mankiw, from a suppressed Fortune article. Greg says: "Sometimes...the most responsible thing a person can do on election day is stay at home ... If you really don't know enough to cast an intelligent vote, you should be eager to let your more informed neighbors make the decision." What do you think?
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Is An Uninformed Vote Better Than No Vote?

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  • by justkarl ( 775856 ) * on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:35PM (#16757707)
    Informed-ness is in the eye of the beholder.
  • Get Informed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman&gmail,com> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:36PM (#16757727) Homepage Journal
    I realize that the seemingly correct thing to do is to stay at home. But all that does is ensure the tyranny of those with an agenda. This stuff isn't rocket science. There are not that many candidates to choose from, and you're chosing the lesser of two evils anyway.

    Get Informed.
    Get to the Ballot.
    Get your vote counted.

    Period, end of story.
  • Read something (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ispeters ( 621097 ) <ispeters.alumni@uwaterloo@ca> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:38PM (#16757799)

    This comes from a person who's too lazy to get off his butt and vote in an impending municipal election, so take it as you please.

    I think not voting and voting while uninformed are both equally heinous. The solution to not voting is voting and the solution to voting while uninformed is to go read something--the newspaper, the internet, a candidate's brochure, whatever. It sounds to me like the problem isn't that you're uninformed, the problem is that you're lazy (like me). So, either get informed, or tell your family that you're too lazy to vote.


  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Control Group ( 105494 ) * on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:39PM (#16757819) Homepage
    Of course not. An uninformed vote will be insignificantly different from a random vote, and I don't think anyone would encourage you to go to your polling place and flip a coin to determine each vote. In fact, I suspect that the very same people insisting you go vote would be appalled if you did that.

    The people who argue that it's somehow your "duty" to go vote are also full of it. It may be possible - may - to make a case that it is the duty of each citizen to cast a reasoned vote. But it would be ridiculous to claim that it's the duty of every citizen to, again, go to the polling place and flip a coin.

    Now, a caveat: I would argue that an uninformed vote is vastly superior to an misinformed vote. So I, personally, am happier hearing that people went and just voted according to whim than hearing that people went and voted straight ticket (I find the odds of each candidate at all levels of government for a given party just happening to line up with your opinions on each issue at each level of government to be quite low). After all, basically random votes should, ultimately, cancel each other out.

    That being said, the comment that you should be happy to let your more-informed neighbors make the decisions really ought to be incentive to become informed, so you don't have to trust what Joe Bloggs thinks of who's in charge.
  • by carlivar ( 119811 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:39PM (#16757841)
    I don't want to vote Republican or Democrat

    Then don't! Sigh... why is everyone so stuck on the 2-party system? No wonder people are uninterested and uninformed. We have so many choices with everything in life yet we limit ourselves to two political parties, both of which have more in common these days than not.

    VOTE THIRD PARTY! For my third party of choice see my sig, but really please just vote for anyone but the Republicrats.
  • by Channard ( 693317 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:40PM (#16757849) Journal
    "I'll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here.

    'I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.' 'I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.' 'Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding both puppets!' 'Shut up! Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control.'"

  • You are assuming.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:40PM (#16757859)
    ..a uniform distribution of ignorance between parties - without specific commentary on who or how much, there is at least a statistical possibility that this is not the case..
  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:40PM (#16757879) Journal
    When people say that it is your civic duty to vote, they are only telling you a third of the story. It is your civic duty to lean about the issues, make up your own mind, and then, (and only then) vote. That is why our founding fathers set up our educational system. They knew that an ignorant electorate would not be able to make informed decisions. Otherwise, the public only votes on catch-phrases like "Iraqi quagmire" or "Soft on terrorism".

    If you don't know, stay home.
  • Re:Get Informed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nos. ( 179609 ) <andrew.thekerrs@ca> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:41PM (#16757923) Homepage

    chosing the lesser of two evils
    But should I? If I really don't support any of the candidates, should I vote?

    I'm a Canadian, and almost always vote. In the instances where I can't decide, I have in the past, spoiled my ballot. I'm not lazy, and trying to avoid stopping in at the polling station. Quite the opposite, I tend to research the parties, candidates, etc. before making my decision. I've voted against the major parties by picking and independent, or green party candidate, spoiled my ballot, and picked the lesser of the evils. However, I'm uncomfortable supporting any candidate if I disagree with his or her platform.

  • by Mark McGann ( 570684 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:42PM (#16757961)
    The fact of the matter is realising you're uninformed is actually a sign of intelligence, so please vote. It only takes a few minuites to find the key candidates websites online and give them at least a brief viewing.

    I'm sure there are people who are so ignorant they shouldn't vote, but the fact of the matter is those people don't know they're ignorant and hence won't choose not to vote because of it.
  • Where do you vote? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bgspence ( 155914 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:42PM (#16757975)
    In any election I've been to, and I've been to lots, there has been many items to vote on. Often way too many.

    You don't have to vote on them all. But it is your DUTY as a citizen to do a bit of homework and make your voice heard.

    Remember, the vote is a poll. Your one vote is counted and helps determine the results of the poll. It makes NO difference if your vote swings an election. The importance of your participation is to ensure that the poll is valid. You can't poll the will of the people if the people are unwilling to make their opinions known.
  • by Dr Caleb ( 121505 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:43PM (#16758015) Homepage Journal
    "I don't want to vote Republican or Democrat, only to find out later I totally disagree with something a candidate stands for."

    Odds are, you will never agree with any candidate's views 100% of the time, unless you are the candidate. Even then, you won't agree 100% of the time, judging from past politicians.
  • Re:Get Informed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SimonShine ( 795915 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:44PM (#16758027) Homepage
    > Get Informed.
    > Get to the Ballot.
    > Get your vote counted.

    I agree. There will be people who are not only less informed than you, but who also disagree strongly with you, who are idiots and who will vote. By not voting, you let their votes count more. Moral: You don't have to get that informed, just make your vote count a little.

    On another note, I realise why choosing between just two candidates *is* hard. In Denmark, you can vote for the party which you identify as being in your vicinity on the politcal compas. That makes voting easier (and not too much less meaningful).
  • Hurts independents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The_Wilschon ( 782534 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:46PM (#16758097) Homepage
    I think that we can assume a uniform distribution on parties. But your forget the independents. If a large segment of the population flips a coin to decide whether they vote straight rep or dem, then those two candidates in each race get a large boost. Not relative to one another, but versus independents they do.

    Hypothetical Numbers: Suppose 1/2 the population doesn't care, but votes anyway, by flipping a coin for rep or dem. Now, of the remaining half, who do care, suppose that just under one third will vote rep, just under one third dem, and just over one third will vote for the independent candidate. If everyone who doesn't care stayed home, the independent would have a plurality. If everyone who doesn't care votes, then it is a tossup between the rep and dem candidate, each of whom now have just under 5/12 of the total vote, whereas the independent, preferred by caring voters, only has just over 1/6, or 2/12 of the total vote.
  • by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:48PM (#16758161) Homepage
    Which ones I can't get to right now, but the attitude is common.

    1. If you are not following politics, then how would you -ever- know if your representatives did something you did not agree with.
    2. It's a good bet your Representatives are going to do things you disagree with. Again, since you don't follow politics, I'm not sure how it is you will know.
    3. It took me about an hour last night to check my understanding of the candidates/issues and then make voting notes. Your favorite search engine makes it easy.

    It's 1:45 PST, so pretty much everywhere in the U.S., your polls should be open and you have an hour to get your facts straight on the issues and candidates in your area.

    Many people have fought and died for over the last 200+ years so that YOU have the priviledge of participating in our democracy. There is no excuse. Get informed and Go vote.
  • Re:Has no affect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fastolfe ( 1470 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:49PM (#16758193)
    People don't normally walk in and attempt to vote in a statistically random manner. They're going to look at two names and think, "Which one should I vote for?" With no research, it's their subconscious that ends up voting. What does the subconscious rely on? Clever, well-timed, or memorable TV spots, signs, telephone calls, whatever. The voter might only really hear one issue about the candidate, and that alone determines who he will vote for. This isn't a random vote, it's a vote for the loudest candidate.
  • by FungiFromYuggoth ( 822668 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:50PM (#16758215)
    If you check polls from 2004 [pipa.org], you will find that Bush voters were more likely than Kerry voters to be wrong about Bush's positions, and that independent voters were often wrong but wrong less often than Bush supporters. There's no reason to assume the uniform distribution.
  • Re:Has no affect (Score:2, Insightful)

    by $0.02 ( 618911 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:50PM (#16758223)
    Not necessary. Irrelevant factors may determine the outcome. There may be two candidates. Their names are Michael Jordan and Scott Peterson. I don't know anything about them but the first one has a cool name while the other one very uncool. So I'll vote for the first one. I may not have any clue about George W Bush and Al Gore but I may vote for the first one just because he is son of the former prez and has the same name. I may not know anything about any candidate for the CA governor so I'll vote for the Terminator. Or I can vote for all candidates that are on the top of the ballot.
  • by GWBasic ( 900357 ) <slashdot@andrewr ... com minus author> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:51PM (#16758249) Homepage

    When I'm uninformed, I do some of the following strategies:

    • Show up to vote, but only vote on the candidates / questions that I am familar with. For example, 4 years ago I only voted for 1 candidate and left the rest of the ballot blank. Today I left about 1/3rd of the ballot blank.
    • Vote for people who can't win, but support issues that you agree with. For example, when I first started voting I'd give a lot of votes to 3rd parties. Also, if I don't care about an election I'll vote for the guy who'll legalize pot. (The 3rd party vote ends up swaying major parties.)
    • Spend 30 minutes watching a debate! Sometimes you'll find that one of the candidates is such a looser that you HAVE to vote against him/her.
    • Read the high-level description of ballot initiatives; if they're confusing, vote no. Chances are, some dirty politicion is trying to pull a fast one.
    • Don't be afraid to give a party your entire ballot, if you think the other party has too much power.

    I hope this helps!

  • If you care... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yrd ( 253300 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:54PM (#16758323) Homepage
    If you care enough to worry about an uninformed vote being bad, why haven't you taken steps to become informed? As a citizen of a democracy, you have the responsibility to do at least cursory research to help you choose who to vote for as your future leaders. It doesn't take long, and it's surely worth some of your time in order to allow you to be confident that you're voting for the right person?
  • by Mr2001 ( 90979 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:54PM (#16758331) Homepage Journal
    The problem with this philosophy is it assumes everyone's interests are the same, that there is one "best" candidate and if you aren't informed enough to know who he is, you should stay home and let the informed people vote for him. (Or, rather, it assumes that the pool of uninformed voters has the same overall interests as the pool of informed voters.)

    But that isn't necessarily true. Suppose uninformed voters tend to have some characteristic that separates them from the general population. For the sake of argument, let's say uninformed voters tend to be younger and poorer than informed voters. Clearly, younger and poorer people will have a different set of interests than older and wealthier people, and policies that benefit one group might harm the other. A young, poor, uninformed voter who decides to stay home and let someone more informed make the decision for him may be handing his vote over to a policy that will harm him, whereas even if he went to the polls himself and just picked a candidate randomly, he might have a better chance of casting it for someone whose interests are more closely aligned with his own.
  • It's Sad Really (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sweatyboatman ( 457800 ) <sweatyboatman@@@hotmail...com> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:55PM (#16758337) Homepage Journal
    Jeez. Use the inter-web to find out information about the candidates [nytimes.com] in your area. This should take 5 minutes. Now... vote!

    What's that? You want to be even more informed than what you can get in 5 minutes? Well, now that's a different question: "Ask Slashdot: How Much Information Is Required For Me To Make An Informed Vote?" (The answer to that question is either none or infinity.)

    You cannot accurately predict the future behavior of the people you vote for. Many 'informed' voters voted for Bush last time and now regret it (and think of all those Democratic primary voters who voted for Kerry). The candidates you are voting for are actually - gasp - real people. And there's an incredibly high likelihood that once they're elected they'll change their positions on any number of important (to you) issues. And using past life experience to predict future behavior in office is no guarantee either (Ahem... McCain v. Torture)

    If you don't feel like searching the web. Just go and vote. It'll just take a minute. And at the very least, if you go through the process of voting now, next time there's an election you may remember this point in your life and try a little harder to be prepared.
  • Re:Get Informed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrekkieGod ( 627867 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:56PM (#16758363) Homepage Journal
    choosing the lesser of two evils
    But should I? If I really don't support any of the candidates, should I vote?

    I agree completely. I ran into this issue for this election, and ended up not voting for anyone (although I did go to vote for the constitutional amendments referendum)

    I don't get this "lesser of two evils" thing. I don't want to choose the lesser of two evils. If someone ties you down to a chair and asks me if I prefer to be beaten with the steel or metal bat, I answer that I prefer to be let go without harm. If those are the only two choices presented, I'll refuse to choose. Otherwise, you'll give the man a justification for the beating. He'll say, "well, he said he wanted to beaten with the wooden bat" in very much the same way politicians say, "the people voted for me. They approve of my actions." And they're right. So stop approving of their actions if you don't like them.

    The question is what to do when you don't like any of the choices. Unfortunately, this takes a little bit more work than researching candidates for an election, and you need to get actively involved in politics. I haven't taken that step myself, but those who feel they're not doing enough if they don't vote should consider it as an alternative to voting for someone they don't like just because they think he'll hurt them less than the other guy.

  • by tsunamiiii ( 975673 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @05:57PM (#16758387)
    Congratulations. You do not know how our political process works. 1 Vote 1 Man is not how our system works as an absolute.
  • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:04PM (#16758561) Homepage
    The people smart enough to consider this question are probably more intelligent than 85% of those who actually will vote. Therefore, not voting because you don't think you are informed enough results in fewer votes by smart people. It puts more power in the hands of the stupid.

  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:06PM (#16758581) Homepage
    Not only what the parent said, but everybody always wants to talk about which candidate to vote for. If you don't feel confident voting for any of the candidates on your ballot -- and you really don't think you're affiliated with any party, including the Green party, Libertarians, what-have-you -- then you can always leave those boxes blank, if your conscience just won't let you pick one.

    Nonetheless, there are lots of other things on the ballot you might be interested in voting for. Are you really, really, really against cigarette taxes? You might want to show up at the polls. Do you think that bond measures are just borrowing money we don't have, and you don't want to float any more bonds for your local schools? You might have an opinion on that, and the information on the ballot is going to be pretty straightforward. Do you think immigrants are great for America and all the crying about how they steal our jobs is hogwash? You might want to see what kind of things your legislators have proposed in the name of tightening up the borders. People have opinions, and the elections give you the opportunity to vote not just on candidates but on specific bills and measures that affect your local community.

    My gut feeling, of course, is that the statement "I don't pay any attention to politics" is a total cop-out. Do you not watch the news? Do you have absolutely no idea about what's going on in the world and no opinions about it, either? I have a hard time buying this. There's a certain little voice in my gut that thinks that "I don't pay attention to politics" is tantamount to saying "I am a lazy couch potato with no sense of ethics or civic duty, who's totally happy with the status quo because I'm too self centered to ever be involved with my community or care what happens to it."

  • Analogy time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by benhocking ( 724439 ) <benjaminhocking@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:06PM (#16758585) Homepage Journal
    I don't get this "lesser of two evils" thing. I don't want to choose the lesser of two evils. If someone ties you down to a chair and asks me if I prefer to be beaten with the steel or metal bat, I answer that I prefer to be let go without harm.

    Instead of choosing between steel or "metal" bats, let's make the analogy closer to how many voters really feel. You've got the choice between being hit (very hard) with a bat, or being slapped (very hard) on the face. You have the option not to choose, but if you don't choose, they'll let someone else decide. What do you do then?

    Having said that, I've got no problem with voting for a 3rd party candidate - just make sure it's an informed decision within the context of our voting system. Not voting, however? That's just letting someone else choose how to abuse you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:07PM (#16758613)
    Was there ever any doubt? I thought everyone already knew that most Republicans had left the reality-based community a long time ago! All they care about these days is getting back at Saddam for attacking us on 9/11 with his WMD and stopping gay atheists from burning flags at their weddings. Anything to distract from their tendency to get busted for corruption or for having sex with men (and boys!) or any other number of atrocious things.
  • by pclminion ( 145572 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:09PM (#16758643)

    Show up to vote, but only vote on the candidates / questions that I am familar with. For example, 4 years ago I only voted for 1 candidate and left the rest of the ballot blank. Today I left about 1/3rd of the ballot blank.

    I agree, but NOT FOR BALLOT MEASURES. Government office is a temporary position, but ballot measures seldom are reversed even if they do obvious harm once passed. When in doubt, VOTE AGAINST CHANGING YOUR STATE'S CONSTITUTION.

    This is a big problem in Oregon. Too many things, in my opinion, are placed on the ballot as Constitutional amendments. I vote against most of these things, even if I fundamentally agree with the measures. The Constitution is not a dumping ground for piecemeal amendments. These issues should go through the normal legislative process.

  • by Total_Wimp ( 564548 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:13PM (#16758695)
    I think that we can assume a uniform distribution on parties.

    Not a great assumption. Witness all the get-out-the-vote campaigns by both parties. These only work because distribution of voters is anything but uniform. Why on earth would they spend money on gettting voters to the polls if the numbers would just cancel each other out?

    The truth is, in districts where the distribution of occasional voters favors their side, they'll try to get out the vote. If distribution of sometimes-voters favors the opponent, they do stuff to convince them to stay home (for example democrats are much more likely to stay home if campaigning is negative so republicans sometimes go negative specifically to keep 'em home.)

    Even the subject of the article makes it clear that his would not be a random vote, and that his family is trying to convince him to vote because they know what he would do. Do you think they would spend any time on this if they thought he was voting for their candidate's opponent?

  • by Saxerman ( 253676 ) * on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:14PM (#16758713) Homepage
    Informed-ness is in the eye of the beholder.

    Too true, and so sad. I didn't actually vote until I was 26 because of my fear of my own ignorance. I was buying into the political rhetoric that the issues were complicated and I needed considerable research to provide a properly informed decision on election day.

    But what the hell does that even mean? "Properly informed" by whom? What critical piece of information was *I* missing that somehow invalidated my opinion, or at least made it less worthy than others? Did I honestly belive that the electorate which did believe in themselves enough to vote were doing an adequate job of choosing the leadership of this country? Is the list of those to vote *for* even adequate to the task? I clearly belive this is not the case, but what should I then do about it? Am I then charged with civic responsibility to either run myself or inspire a worthy candidate? Would this obligation then charge me with doing my utmost to get into office? How far would I really have to take this responsibility?

    Of course, the answer for me turns out to be far more simple. My problem wasn't ignorance, but procrastination. I would always wait until the last moment to decide if I should get informed on the issues, until I eventually decided to not bother. I mean, I didn't even know where or how to register! Yet, but taking a little initiative to start researching before the election, I quickly found the information I needed from my state website, which also listed all the candidates which would be on my local ballot. Using the little state bio information provided was more than enough to google each of them. Although there is certainly a lot (sic) of biased political information on the web, it really didn't take me long to decide which candidates I preferred. I registered as an Independent, and more often than note my votes tend to cross party lines. However I suspect this isn't so much that I'm a moderate, but because our sad excuse for a two party system has turned into giant political monoliths that blur the issues in an attempt to garner mass appeal.

  • Re:Analogy time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman&gmail,com> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:15PM (#16758739) Homepage Journal
    You have three choices:

    - Get hit with a metal bat
    - Get hit with a backhand slap
    - Find a way to turn the tables and escape

    In voting, you have three options:

    - Choose Candidate A
    - Choose Candidate B
    - Run For Office

    The reason why the options are so unappealing is because the population regularly misses that last item there.
  • Don't be silly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:27PM (#16758977)
    In the time it takes someone to whine about being uninformed, they could be researching their vote choice. Almost everyone has a sample ballot online. The League of Women Voters [lwv.org] provides a lot of information for just about everyone. Campaign finance records are online even if you don't have the time to study them in detail. And there's plenty of stuff on candidates just from googling around. If I can't make an informed vote, I leave it blank. For example, I researched the entire ballot for my part of California kind of last minute. Some things I had already decided to vote for (eg, the Governator for another four years). But turns out I missed a choice for school board, so I left that blank. It took a couple hours (plus consider time that I had spent earlier reading up on the propositions) and I'd rather have spent longer (I hadn't budgeted the time before a major weekend trip). I did make sure I voted against the clown, Bill Lockyer who was suing automakers for global warming.
  • Pardon? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s20451 ( 410424 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:27PM (#16758991) Journal
    Therefore, not voting because you don't think you are informed enough results in fewer votes by smart people. It puts more power in the hands of the stupid.

    This is a perfect example of the fallacy of appeal to authority. Being smart but ignorant does not somehow make your ignorance any more valuable than that of stupid people.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:28PM (#16758999) Homepage Journal
    Even more important than your share of the decisionmaking, which is small, is the "buy-in" by you to the government that is chosen. Even if your choices lose, if you vote you at least had your say, and are more likely to say it's a relatively fair process. And of course participation by you, along with everyone else, helps ensure that the public's requirements are part of the system. Per person, the inclusion of your whole person in the process is bigger than your contribution to the decision.

    Otherwise, just the "special people" would vote, only their kind of voting process would go on, and only they would be part of the system that rules them for the next year or two or four or six. And eventually that cut-out part of the people would become ungovernable.

    Elections are orderly revolutions. Why should disorderly revolutions have all the fun of ignorant masses deciding the rulers?
  • Could politicians really believe that that many millions of Americans don't deserve to be represented in Congress or the Presidency?

    Yes, yes they can believe that. And they do.

    They'd HAVE to change the system to a more fair electoral system.

    No, no they wouldn't. It took them over 100 years to entrench the two party system so firmly it will be nigh impossible to dislodge it. What in the world makes you think they are about to give that up? Because a couple of people don't like it?

    As long as the majority of people continue to vote for the Big Two, they will only get further and further entrenched. Every election they see as a "mandate", regardless of how slim the actual victory margin may have been. Every time they win, no matter how narrowly, they see it as continued justification for continuing the system as is.

    We need to alter the societal mentality that "throwing your vote away" means voting third party, to instead mean voting for the Big Two.
  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:38PM (#16759205) Homepage Journal
    If you don't vote at all then you are literally giving other people control over your life.

    Just like voting, then?

  • by arete ( 170676 ) <areteslashdot2.xig@net> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:38PM (#16759207) Homepage
    Summary: vote Dem this time - vote Independent often (explanation below)

    The two-party system is NOT part of the American way. The strangehold of the two party system is what gets all kind of bad politicians - from both sides - to get elected without having real positions on issues, and then to pass laws that suck because it's politicially infeasible to vote against your party. It didn't use to be that way.

    I'm no fan of the current administration or of the current members of congress who have aligned themselves most closely with it. Which is funny, because I'm really and old-school Republican. But I'm not going to rail against them here. I also have a lot more to be unhappy with from the people in charge - the Dems haven't been ABLE to do anything federally I really didn't like recently. But there are definitely people I love and hate in both parties. What's sick is the number of votes along party lines for crappy legislation...

    But our government was founded on the policy of it being hard to get anything done. That's what "checks and balances" means. You should need broad-based support from different sectors to get anything done. Our current two party system doesn't do that. As long as no one is going to stand up to their party, we need at least one house of congress or the president to be different than the other two until we can change that or get more independents.

    My first piece of advice is this: In THIS election, for the House at least, vote Democrat. House terms are only two years. For the next two years we are basically guaranteed of a Republican President. This situation is peculiar to mid-term elections... In this particular mid-term I have the same advice about the Senate, because there is zero chance of the Dems getting more than an EXTREMELY narrow majority at this point, so the impact after 2008 is minimal.

    Next, if you can't make an informed vote - a vote informed enough for you - then I say make a real effort to vote independent, and do it for local races too. Green and Libertarian seem to be the dominant third parties - one for each direction. But even if they AREN'T your alignment, vote for one of them, preferably whoever is polling higher. It takes almost no research to see that in most major races they have no chance, and therefore your vote can be guaranteed not have an effect on THIS election - which is what you wanted, right? But those results are published far and wide.

    The increasing number of independent votes helps finance independent parties, helps establish their creditibility with voters (most of whom have the reverse of the submitter's position - they don't want to "waste" their vote - people hate voting for a loser) and generally gives them an increasing chance to win some elections (starting at the local level) If enough people do it, it also sends a message to the politicians in both major parties that they have something to worry about and that what they actually do in office might just be important.

  • by Gerzel ( 240421 ) <brollyferret@gEI ... minus physicist> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:44PM (#16759337) Journal
    Well to me voting is a duty of each citizen in the US. You should vote. And part of voting is taking the time to at least look up and read something about the candidates. It doesn't take much time people. We are talking a few hours every couple of years to research the candidates, think about what you want, and actually go to the polling stations to vote.

    People who don't vote because they are uninformed should try to make themselves more informed. It isn't that hard. If you are reading this then you probably can use google or another search to find a candidate's website. At least read that and see what they say they stand for if nothing else.
  • by roystgnr ( 4015 ) <{roystgnr} {at} {ticam.utexas.edu}> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:52PM (#16759473) Homepage
    Of course not. An uninformed vote will be insignificantly different from a random vote, and I don't think anyone would encourage you to go to your polling place and flip a coin to determine each vote. In fact, I suspect that the very same people insisting you go vote would be appalled if you did that.

    You're right that a random vote is much better than a misinformed vote - if a million non-voters decided to go the polls and start flipping coins, they'd basically just add gaussian noise with a 500 vote standard deviation to the results. That's not a good thing, but it's not going to make any long term difference in election results.

    Unfortunately, human beings aren't as good at picking random numbers as coins are. If a million non-voters decided to go to the polls and start voting ignorantly, they'd be adding their own conscious and subconscious biases to the vote. Perhaps those biases would go to the guy who had more money to spend on commercials and signs, or to the taller candidate, or to the candidate who played dirtier tricks, but however it worked out I expect the results wouldn't be good - any such bias is likely to eventually benefit candidates who are good at running for office, at the expense of candidates who would merely be good at holding office.

    A party-line vote is just as bad. I'm a registered Republican (and just voted for 5 or 6 R's), but I think the Republicans Uber Alles mentality that's infected most of their leadership is ruining this country. I'm fairly libertarian (and just voted for 8 or 9 L's), but a few of the Libertarian candidates on my ballots this year clearly would be incompetent in office, and a few of the competent ones were no better than spoilers in races ruined by the plurality voting system. I voted mostly for Democrats this year, but I think an all-D federal government wouldn't be much better than the current mess. If everyone always voted a straight-party ticket we'd never have gridlock, which in my lifetime has been much better at running the government than any unopposed party.

    I think the best you can do if you want to cast a full ballot without spending hours researching candidates is to:
    1. Vote against the incumbent. In federal elections this may hurt your district, but it's good for the country as a whole.
    2. Vote for the non-Republicrat candidate. Even if you're not a fan of the Libertarians or Greens, a strong showing for them might get the parties in power to look at non-plurality voting systems to avoid having their voting base splintered.

    And if neither of those things are possible, the only remaining good advice I can give comes from a Heinlein character:
    "If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time that truly intelligent exercise of the franchise requires."
  • by AusIV ( 950840 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @06:58PM (#16759597)
    I typically follow the rules you've described for voting. If I have an explicit reason to vote a certain way, I vote that way. Otherwise, I vote libertarian or leave it blank. If I'm not informed on an issue, I should leave the decision to people who are informed. I have friends who tell me voting libertarian is a wasted vote, but I disagree (you didn't really address why it sends a more powerful message than not voting, so I'm going to).

    Every election, you hear people saying it's their patriotic duty to go out and vote. I disagree. Democracy only functions under an educated electorate, therefore I view it as your patriotic duty to become educated on the issues at hand. Hopefully after becoming educated, you will be motivated to go vote. If not, you're still sending a message by not voting. Usually that message will be interpreted as indifference, and I guess that's what it is.

    But I try to send a more significant message than "I don't care," because I do. Politicians are always trying to figure out how to get (re)elected. By voting Libertarian, I send them a clear cut message of what they need to do in order to get my vote - stop expanding the federal government, stop restricting personal liberties, stop creating programs that give my tax dollars to people who choose not to work, stop subsidizing crops that we over produce - essentially I don't want the government telling me what to do with my checkbook or my zipper.

    I don't know that I believe everything would be hunky-dory if the libertarians were in charge, but I do want to move that direction, and voting Libertarian tells politicians what direction to go if they want my vote.

  • Re:Pardon? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:00PM (#16759631) Homepage
    You are incorrect (in many cases). A smart person is more likely to recognize his own ignorance, while a stupid person is likely to make decisions based on FALSE information.

    Smart people can often realize when someone is trying to mislead them, while stupid people are much more likely to fall for it.

    Who is more valuable (to use your term): The person who knows the extent of his own knowledge, or the person with factually incorrect "knowledge?"
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:02PM (#16759655)
    1. Not voting isn't a neutral action, it helps the incumbent.

    2. Even if you do know every policy of all of candidates, you're not going to agree with all of the policies of any one candidate. This is a feature of the electoral system folding politics into two parties. Until the electoral system is reformed the best you can possibly do is vote on broad general principles.

  • by bomb_number_20 ( 168641 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:04PM (#16759691)
    I disagree.

    Being smart gives you no advantage when voting unless you know something about the candidates. If you don't know anything about any of the candidates, you are reduced to guessing. In this case, the only information you have available to you is the candidates name, party and the position they are running for. You have nothing useful with which to draw a meaningful conclusion as to the best candidate.

    In this particular situation, a stupid person who knows nothing about the candidates guesses just as well as a smart person who knows nothing about the candidates.
  • by MrAnnoyanceToYou ( 654053 ) <dylanNO@SPAMdylanbrams.com> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:07PM (#16759745) Homepage Journal
    Heh. Yeah, I guess if you count absorbing all of the sanctioned disinformation out there as informed you're right.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:07PM (#16759757)
    1 Vote 1 Man is not how our system works as an absolute.

    Yes it is.
  • by blockhouse ( 42351 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:10PM (#16759797)
    It puts more power in the hands of the stupid.

    That in a nutshell is why democracy is ineffective, dangerous, and should be abolished.
  • by b17bmbr ( 608864 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:14PM (#16759849)
    though I don't usually respond to AC's, being a decorated veteran is respectable and honorable, but doesn't imply that he understands the nature of the enemy or how to combat it. when kerry made the prostitition analogy, he lost me. and, our two greatest war presidents, FDR and Lincoln, never saw combat. LBJ, who was a decorated veteran, was in charge of our largest military fiasco ever.

    I find it odd that somehow, those who protested the vietnam war are now putting so much faith in generals, the same group they despised so much in their day. and I find it odd that suddenly military service is the necessary imprimatur for the presidency, when it mattered not at all when Clinton ran. And I find it amusing that Hillary now has standard which she will be unable to meet. I am sure that it will be curiously overlooked though. It is an historically dangerous standard I might add, one that goes back to the Romans. in fact, read the constitution, the part about the president being a resident. That was put in there to ensure that a conquering general would not "cross the Rubicon" in America.
  • Re:Read something (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shrykk ( 747039 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:27PM (#16760075)
    The solution to not voting is voting and the solution to voting while uninformed is to go read something

    Well said, sir. Even if you start on election day you can read the manifestos/pledges/whatever of the parties you'd consider voting for, and find out a little about your local candidates. You can turn over in your mind whether to vote on an issue (such as economics, global politics or personal liberties) that you consider most important, or to make a 'tactical vote', go for a big party or a little guy etc. It doesn't take long to arrive at a decision you can at least live with for the next few years.
  • Re:Get Informed (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @07:41PM (#16760271)

    Explain, in a one paragraph summary the difference between the two major political parties without simply declaring one evil and one good.

    1. The US government of today dwarfs the US government of only 100 years ago, both in revenue and power over the people. (In fact, the US government is now the most powerful government AND world empire that has ever existed.)

    2. During that period, political power was dominated by the republicans and the democrats. No one party dominated the other; they both shared in the power over this period.

    3. Therefore, it stands to reason that both the republicans and democrats are in favor of bigger and bigger government. We don't know just how big, yet, because government is still growing in power and revenue. It can be said with 100% certainly that both parties are in favor of political power for themselves and (consequently) less freedom for the individual.

    4. Now why would I care to know the dime's worth of difference?

  • by mp3phish ( 747341 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @08:05PM (#16760611)
    "If you don't like either candidate, simply vote out the incumbent."

    This is one of many excellent solutions for those who "can't decide who to vote for" or are afraid of "voting for the lesser of two evils".

    You people need to get a hold of yourself. If you are talking about the lesser of two evils, or you are thinking of it, then your doing more damage than good. There is RARELY the lesser of two evils. Go back with your 20/20 heindsight and tell me of all the elections you can think of, where you voted the lesser of two evils, or didn't vote, and someone came into power and ruined everything you stand for?

    I'm sorry folks, but this is serious. If you can't be an adult, sit down, and figure out that one of the candidates is more in line with your principles, then you have a serious problem and maybe you SHOULDN'T be voting.

    It is extremely RARE if the only two options are so evil that you cannot come to a common ground with either of them. If this is the case, you have serious mental problems, either that your just ignorant. This is not to offend anyone, because I know a lot of people who say they voted for the lesser of the evils. But seriously people. This isn't rocket science, and if you are talking like that then you need to shut up and quit filling people's heads. If you don't trust either candidate then you had better figure something out because you have trust problems.

    In summary: If you are talking about voting for the lesser of two evils, you really do have some serious issues you need to address on a personal level.

    (maybe now and then there really are two evil people as the only option, but seriously, in these national elections, are you serious?)
  • by peacefinder ( 469349 ) * <{alan.dewitt} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @08:13PM (#16760737) Journal
    Ideally, you should get informed. This is your country. You are part owner. Assume your responsibilities and get informed.

    But of course, that may seem a dauntingly large step. If it's too intimidating, then start small. Almost every election has several races and issues to be voted upon. So pick one. Get informed about that issue. Read the information provided by the candidtaes, or the initiative text or whatever. Ask your friends. Read the papers. Check out local blogs. Think about it. Form your own opinion, then vote accordingly.

    Leave the rest of the ballot blank if you must. There's no penalty for undervoting, so just vote on what you know. It's not that hard.

    Try again next election... but pick more than one thing to vote on.

    Don't wait, just get started.
  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @08:13PM (#16760741)
    I'll wager the majority of the population goes to vote with nothing more than the TV ads and aggressive mailings/telemarketing calls to guide them, i.e. underinformed to misinformed.

    This means:
    -The candidate that will push policies that align well with the views of the majority of the constituency may lose to the slime ball who sinks the lowest and sways the most 'sheep' to vote for them. A strong factor is stressing things that have nothing to do with policy, or when they do focus on the opponent's voting history/plans they do so in a headline sensationalist way (i.e. 'He voted against the PATRIOT act, would you want an unpatriotic representative?').
    -Your pool of likely candidates to win consist solely of those who already powerful and wealthy, who can either afford to fund such shallow campaigns or align themselves with those who do, at which point you can be assured they are likely to have no grasp on the 'common' person's experience, and/or have agreed to completely be the bitch of the rich and powerful. If a very level-headed but middle-class person of no particular extraordinary means who is independent would be the best candidate and widely popular, he will still not get into the media outlets. This used to be an unfortunate fact that people could not easily overcome, but now with the internet people have a venue to campaign, but *only* if the voters would proactively research the candidates. That's the up and down of the internet, anyone can publish, but only those that want to read will.

    A lot of people argue that the uninformed balance out between both parties, and that's a bad statement to make. First the implication is that no independent or third party candidates should ever matter. Secondly, truthfully speaking, there are almost *no* uninformed voters, just those with useless information or bad information they are brainwashed into thinking is important. If they were truly uninformed, they wouldn't even recognize the words 'democrat' or 'republican' and being significant and different from 'independent', 'libertarian', 'green party' or what have you.

    The result is that we have a system consisting of two parties that have ceased to mean much at all, with independent and third party candidates consisting largely of overly extreme viewpoints. If someone were, say, a republican truer to the original creed of reduced government, but not overboard, in a sane system that candidate could be libertarian, but if they are moderate they will jump into the republican camp even though the party doesn't represent that anymore, because it's the closest 'realistic' fit. Republicans *vaguely* are about reinforcing the current social structure and trusting business to manage the welfare of the economy, but not much more can really be said, some would cut back on government size and spending, some would increase both. Democrats are vaguely about increasing social programs, but again it's not a hard rule and not much else can be discerned. For example, based on the widespread principles, the occurrence of democrats rightfully criticizing a lack of fiscal responsibility in the republican party should be exactly backwards, but it's happening.
  • by PatTheGreat ( 956344 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @08:32PM (#16760983) Homepage

    I don't pay attention to politics much; heck, I'm only 18 and I have school and a dozen other things to occupy my time. But by golly, when that very special Tuesday rolls around, I find out who the candidates are, google 'em up, and form some opinions. Then, relatively well-informed and with notes in hand, I head on down to the polling place and cast my votes. I don't vote in all the catagories, but I vote in the things I think will make a big difference in my life.

    People, just because you aren't informed doesn't mean you can't be.

  • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @08:47PM (#16761155) Homepage
    It puts more power in the hands of the stupid.
    That in a nutshell is why democracy is ineffective, dangerous, and should be abolished.

    Democracy is the worst form of government--except all the others that have been tried.

    Personally, I think the best answer would be a democracy of educated people. Make the high school curriculum better. Make teaching lucrative enough that intelligent people consider it as a career option. Make economics, formal logic, philosophy, and finance mandatory high school courses.
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:01PM (#16761311)
    I know nothing (and care little) about the the head of the school board.

    Then you will have no cause for complaint when "intelligent design" is taught as biology, video surveillance systems are ramped up to Supermax proportions and Office 2007 is introduced into the classroom.

  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:26PM (#16761659) Homepage Journal
    Not voting isn't a neutral action, it helps the incumbent.

    So? When the incumbent is just as evil, just as blatantly operating outside the limits set by the constitution, when the government itself is completely, utterly out of control, as are the parties, as are the corporations, what difference will helping the incumbent or the challenger make? You are proceeding from an invalid position, and that is, the presumption that politicians are a force for good, or at least, that one might be a force for less evil. This has not been demonstrably true for many years, at least in the USA.

    Even if you do know every policy of all of candidates, you're not going to agree with all of the policies of any one candidate.

    I don't agree with any of the policies of any of the candidates. I find them repugnant, in point of fact. Furthermore, I am personally unelectable because just about no one is willing to believe that they are invested in an evil and corrupt system, and no minor party exists that represents even a tiny fraction of my views. They're all blind and bloody optimists, as near as I can tell. The libertarians are the closest thing to reasonable, and they are a confused bunch of puppies.

    Election day means nothing to me. You're either going to have democrats or republicans come out on top. They'll both continue to wreck the country, distance themselves from the founders and framers, blithely ignore the very idea of liberty, and steal from me using coercion, or violence if I am foolish enough to resist said coercion. They've taken my home under false pretenses and for grossly insufficient compensation (supposedly for the Tock's Island "dam"... which they never built and incompetently turned into a park) they've used my taxes to invade a sovereign country that was not attacking us and murder untold numbers of innocents, they've suspended habeas corpus, they coddle, support and project religion to an unconscionable degree, they've criminalized many forms of sexuality, free speech, all manner of personal choice, they've actually co-opted the voting process, even the voting hardware, they lie about each other and themselves, they are operating completely outside the bounds the constitution lays out... Voting is the opportunity to ask for more of the same, and no less.

    Voting puts forth the very strong implication that you support the way the system works, as you are willing to participate. Well, I don't support the way the system works, as far as I am concerned, it is about as broken as it can get and still superficially resemble the occasional fragment of democratic procedure or any vestige of a republic well enough to fool the middle part of the gaussian.

    Voting offers the sheep the illusion of control, without even a chance of actually handing any degree of such control over. If you enjoy voting, you should probably be examining what your core values stand for. If anything.

    So that's why I don't vote. No point. Douche and a turd.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:36PM (#16761775)
    The two-party system pretty clearly is part of the "American way"

    You can see the lines of fracture developing when Washington first tried to fit Hamilton and Jefferson into the same administration.

    The only thing that is going to give currently-minor parties (they are no more "independent" than the majors) a reasonable chance of winning more than the occasional office is radical reform of electoral systems, which is probably going to have to be led by a citizen initiative

    I think winner-take-all ia too much a part of an American's way of thinking for this to happen. We don't like tie games, we don't like multiple-choice.

  • by Decessus ( 835669 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:40PM (#16761825)
    I don't know how it is for you, but when I went to the ballot I had the option of writing in a candidate. This would be the same as "none of the above", correct?
  • one quick comment (Score:2, Insightful)

    by azakem ( 924479 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:47PM (#16761901)
    What makes you think the people who are actually voting are better informed than you? The majority of voters probably could not give even a brief overview of their chosen candidate's platform, and their decision was probably heavily influenced by party identification rather than any specific views of their candidate.
  • Wow... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fizban ( 58094 ) <fizban@umich.edu> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @09:59PM (#16762013) Homepage


    There are people who would give their lives for the ability to do what you shrug off so easily. Your lack of enthusiasm for the freedoms you've been blessed with is a DISGRACE and you should feel ashamed. You have brains and you've chosen not to use them, which is the most horrible thing anyone could ever do. Go read up on your elected officials and the issues that you have the ability to affect. There's really not that much to learn and it should only take you a couple of hours. It is unacceptable to either not vote or to cast an uninformed vote. The only right thing to do is to get informed and to fulfill your civic DUTY, a duty that people are DYING for even as I write this. Your lack of respect for their sacrifice is astounding. I don't give a rat's ass what your political affiliation is. I'm a liberal at heart, so I probably disagree with some of the things you and your parents believe in, but I'll be damned if I'll let you sit there and say voting isn't important enough for your time.
  • by dircha ( 893383 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:40PM (#16762359)
    "Voting isn't about getting everything you want on every single issue. That doesn't happen in a democracy -- you'll have to become dictator of your own nation to realize that little fantasy."

    Your snide remark is incorrect. To get your way all the time you must simply share the opinion of a sufficient representative majority on every issue you care about.

    And most people are only particularly interested in a handful of national issues.

    You also fail to account for positions of principal or conscience. Given a choice only between, say, two pro-life or two pro-choice candidates, it would not surprise me were a considerable number of people to simply abstain from voting in that race. I know people who would never under any circumstances vote for a pro-life candidate. And I know people who would never under any circumstances vote for a pro-choice candidate. Similarly I would not object to a pacifist choosing to abstain from voting in a race given a choice between only pro-military candidates.

    A vote to many people is not merely another utilitarian calculus, but rather a personal endorsement of a candidate's character, intelligence, and values.

    And to others, a vote lends legitimacy to a system they deem illegitimate. This is also a stance I respect.

    How you understand voting is your prerogative, but I encourage others to stick to their convictions rather than be pressured into taking an action they believe to be ethically objectionable. Abstaining from voting is your right. And in a nation where mid-term elections frequently see less than 50% turnout, the votes of those who choose to abstain speak more loudly than those who choose to participate.
  • Re:Has no effect (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dircha ( 893383 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @10:58PM (#16762473)
    "Not voting is not neutral: It is supporting the majority or plurality (not incumbents)."

    You are employing a very unusual and ethically dubious definition of "supporting".

    I have abstained from voting in many races; I am proud of it, I tell others that I do it, why I do it, and I will keep doing it.

    Captors have tied you and your family to chairs. You are told to choose whether your wife or your child shall be shot. If you fail to choose, your wife shall be shot, you are told. You tell those fuckers exactly what you think of them. They shoot your wife. Did you support killing your wife?
  • by Torodung ( 31985 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:36PM (#16762799) Journal
    As an example, while I voted in my general election today, I left the entire judicial retention sheet blank, because I had forgotten to download recommendations from the relevant State bar and legal associations. In one judge's case, ten seperate judicial review associations *unanimously* recommended his ouster.

    Uninformed voters, in a judicial slate, are likely to vote for retentions across the board, making the ouster of a clearly incompetant justice that much harder. That is what my wife did, as I found out when we talked about it later. Such action in ignorance literally *breaks* the system.

    So I believe that if you don't have a reason to vote, you *shouldn't* vote. Partial participation is preferable as well. One should always undervote and refrain from voting in particular races if you have no reason (or clue even) to exercise franchise.

    To qualify: I think that party line is sufficient if you are a partisan, but if you truly have no idea and no opinion, leave the matter to people who do.

    Additionally, I am appalled that anyone would choose to remain so completely *ignorant* that they would be able to heed this advice for an entire election. Partial participation is fine, but do you live in a cave? Do you care about your rights and freedom at all? There is no graver duty of an American citzen than to participate in his democratic republic. None. For me, this trumps even military service.

    Shame on you.

  • by WeblionX ( 675030 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @11:44PM (#16762863) Homepage Journal
    I would assume that by educated he meant the masses being educated. You know, not brainwashed. Which is probably why he used "educated" and not "brainwashed." Just a hunch.
  • Re:Get Informed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:05AM (#16763051)
    If everybody thought that, we'd have a much better world.

    I count people who vote for their party no matter what among those who are uniformed voters. They're MORE dangerous than people who just pick at random.
  • by belg4mit ( 152620 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @12:15AM (#16763117) Homepage
    Umm, France actually has compulsory voting too. IMHO, compulsory voting is antithetical
    to democracy. If you wish to address the usual issues of apathy, etc. which are used to
    bolster the case for this abomination you could go along way by simply enstating a
    federal voting holiday.
  • Re:Wow... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fraser ( 16937 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @06:45AM (#16765309) Homepage
    I am tired of this twisted argument.

    People did not give their lives so that citizens could chose between one group of lying scum and another group of lying scum.

    People died to give us the vote, not to validate disgusting evil leaders. To associate these two things is to deny their sacrifice.

    I chose not to vote because there is nolonger anyone worth voting for - and it makes me ashamed that millions have sacrificed theirselves for it to mean nothing.

  • by bodan ( 619290 ) <bogdanb@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @10:19AM (#16766985)
    I don't know, deciding to start a revolution through the elective process sort of defeats the whole purpose, don't you think?

    I can almost see the news reports:

    The Florida Supreme Court finished evaluating the results of the recount, and decided in favor of the revolution. The recount was requested by presidential candidate Bush the IIIrd, who alleged massive election fraud by the people. The decision is final, with no possibility of appeal to a higher court. The current president will finish his mandate in two weeks, at which point the revolution is scheduled to start, it is believed at 9:30 on a Monday.
  • by Shaper_pmp ( 825142 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @10:39AM (#16767349)
    1. Why? It's not like in the event of a draw the incumbent stays in - either there's a clear winner, a recount, a court case or Fox news decides, right?

    Not voting benefits/harms both runners equally. Now, the incumbent often has an advantage, but that's just because people recognise him (better the devil you know). If those uneducated voters who'd vote in the same guy again simply because they recognise him instead stayed at home and sat on their thumbs on voting day, the incumbent's advantage would be reduced, not increased. Uneducated votes decrease, meaning educated votes have proportionately more weight.

    2. Indeed. Unless you really have no interest in politics, or the "general principles" of both parties are equally attractive to you, in which case you should simply not vote.

    Voting without understanding who you're voting for is like 300 million people sitting in a car all snatching at the wheel to try to get somewhere. If you can get over the childish insistence on being "the one who decides where you're going" you'd probably be better off in the long run sitting back and letting people who knows how to drive do the driving.

    This even works when the choices seem against your preference in the long run. Ask a hundred people what they'd like from a candidate, and most will say "lower taxes" and "increased safety/security". If everyone gets what they want the country would be a bankrupt police state within a couple of elections[1].

    Of course, certain choices a government can make (running up huges debts, wars) may be bad for you in the short term and the long term... but when this happens you'll have a preference for one candidate (or rather, an antipreference for the other), so point 2. will no longer apply, and you can vote with a clean conscience.

    There's nothing magical about "everyone's mistakes cancelling out" - sure hopefully, if stupidity is divided 50-50 between supporters of different parties they'll cancel out... but even if this happens they're still diluting the votes of the people who do care, and who do have a clue.

    Think of it like this: You can add acid to a cake and you can add alkali. You can also add a dollop of cake-mixture, but only if you know enough about cake-making to mix it correctly yourself (and most/many people don't).

    Sure, if anyone who wants to can throw in a cupful of either acid of alkali then eventually with enough people the cake won't burn your mouth and it won't dissolve your jawbone. However, that doesn't mean it's as good as a cake where the fuckwits abstained and the qualified chefs had a greater hand in the outcome.

    To be clear: it's vitally important that anyone who wants to can vote - this is the essence of democracy. It's actually harmful when people are forced or pressured into making uneducated votes, as these don't reflect any meaningful relevent opinion and only serve to dilute the votes that do.

    [1] Insert your own joke here.
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @01:15PM (#16770343) Journal
    The answer is not to just go out and vote for the sake of voting, but to spend some time learning about your candidates for the sake of your county, state, and/or country. If you don't know enough to vote, you shouldn't just vote for the hell of it nor sit at home, you should do your civic duty and put yourself in a place to make an informed decision.

    The problem is that once you spend the time and learn about your candidates, you realize they're all corrupt bastards and not one of them is fit to hold power. What do you do then?

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?