Ross: With voter pamphlets and mail-in ballots, you have no reason not to vote
The latest note I got –– very polite by the way –– was from a listener who didn’t appreciate being chastised for not voting in the primary, because, she said, “I almost never hear any information about primary candidates on the news. I do not feel informed enough to vote in the primary. And when I’m not informed, I don’t vote on something. I don’t want to pollute the vote with my uninformedness.”
This listener sounds like a good person, and she is correct, we typically don’t give much coverage to primary candidates. That’s on us – but it doesn’t change the situation.
More from Dave Ross: The divide between the reasonable and the unreasonable comes down to what works
I’m just letting you know that every person who doesn’t vote – for whatever reason – is making someone else’s vote more powerful than it otherwise would be. That could actually be to my benefit, so I probably shouldn’t be saying anything. But if I wasn’t up-front about this, I’d feel guilty – like finding a $20 bill and slipping it into my pocket without even looking around for the person who dropped it.
So as the election approaches, I remind people that not voting means giving up your one chance to throw your weight around on an equal basis with every other voter.
There are many reasons why you might not want to vote – you feel uninformed, you hate all the candidates, you don’t have time to read up on them … but what you cannot say is that it’s too much of a hassle, or inconvenient, or that you can’t learn about who’s running. Because the state and the county mail you a voter’s pamphlet, with the statements of all the candidates who wanted to participate, they also mail your ballot to your home and pay for return postage.
Everything but thrust the pencil into your hand
But I feel that before you non-voters surrender your power yet again, I am obligated to let you know how politicians see that choice.
Having campaigned myself, I can tell you – every politician knows which neighborhoods vote, and which don’t. And even politicians who are in it for the right reason know they can’t do any good unless they win, so they are not going to waste their time on people who don’t vote.
Non-voters, as far as politicians are concerned, are dead. Or were never born. Your home will not be on the doorbell list and pollsters are unlikely to call for your opinion. And yes, maybe you prefer that!
And it’s true – voting doesn’t guarantee you’ll win.
Don’t become irrelevant
But not voting does guarantee you will be ignored.
And it’s your choice! All I would ask is that you make sure your unused ballot materials are responsibly recycled. And thanks for surrendering your power. I will try to use it wisely.
Learn more about registering to vote, receiving a ballot in the mail, and doing your research about the candidates.
Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.
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