Are You Registered to Vote?

Registration in most states closes in the next couple of weeks. You’re not allowed to bitch about politics unless you are registered to vote.

This entry was posted in Politics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Are You Registered to Vote?

  1. zak says:

    Seems an appropriate place to share David Foster Wallace’s perspective (he’s on the brain with his suicide this weekend) on voting:

    “If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”

    – David Foster Wallace, author of “The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys and The Shrub” in The Best American Magazine Writing 2001

  2. Dan says:

    1. I am registered to vote. I haven’t missed an election (well, a congressional or presidential election, anyway) since I was 20 or so.

    2. Everybody should vote, in my opinion.

    3. I’ve never agreed that you can’t complain if you don’t vote. I don’t recall the Constitution saying that freedom of speech is applicable only to registered voters.

    Not voting can be interpreted as a vote for the status quo; unless of course the status quo is in danger of being voted out of office, in which case not voting might be interpreted as a vote against the status quo. I’ve also heard that voting for a third-party candiate is actually a vote for (insert party you don’t like here). In fact, a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for a third-party candidate. The Constitution is just as silent on the need to vote for a wing of the Republocrat Party as is it is on any connection between voting and freedom of speech.

    Also there are times when embargoes of elections are called to protest massive unfairness and cheating.

    Of course, that could never happen here.

  3. Rick Turner says:

    There are very civilized countries where you have to vote. Not a bad idea.

  4. P. Cross says:

    RT, You are one of the reason I enjoy this so much. EH, EH,EH,EH, you really crack me up.

    I just have this picture of an official of this civilized society armed with a cattle prod forcing a citizen into the voting booth to vote.

    Really, no offense intended.

  5. Jesse C says:

    Actually, Jon, I have to disagree with the assertion that voting is somehow an accurate measure of your political involvement or right to complain. Most economists are happy to explain how your individual vote is essentially meaningless, especially in big national elections. For example, I live in NJ, and whether I vote in the election or not, the outcome of the presidential race in that state is going to be the same.

    However, there are many things I can do WITHOUT being registered to vote that could have much more impact on the election. I can make monetary donations to a candidate allowing them to encourage many other people to vote. I can volunteer time in a phonebank, calling to encourage more people to vote. I can also work as a door-to-door operative on election day, working to GOTV. Even if I don’t vote myself, I could contribute hundreds or even thousands of votes to a candidate, all of which are much more valuable than my own insignificant vote.

    What makes democracies work is an involved and educated citizenry. While voting can be an expression of that for a person, they are far from mutually exclusive. Lots of people who aren’t involved/educated vote, and there are people who don’t vote who are involved/educated.

    Oh and your statement also denigrates anyone under the age of 18 who is still politically involved.

  6. AV says:

    Here is an edifying chart: Voter turnout ranking by country. USA ranks 139 out of 172, with 48.3% turnout. (shame)

    Their page on compulsory voting is fascinating as well; Italy ranks #1 with 92.5% turnout; and is considered to have a compulsory system of the “other” category:

    “There are no formal sanctions Mexico or Italy but possible arbitrary or social sanctions. This is called the “innocuous sanction” in Italy, where it might for example be difficult to get a daycare place for your child or similar but this is not formalised in any way at all.”

    I am a Canadian (rank:77 / 68.4% turnout) expat living in LA. I am often astonished by the hubris in the political speeches and elsewhere declaring America the “greatest democracy in the world”. Another: “Only in America can you ________” (insert something totally do-able in about 100 other countries).

    I wonder if this is a version of the wishful thinking that gave East Germany the official name “German Democratic Republic” and North Korea “Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea”

  7. Jeff says:

    i’m with George Carlin, who said:

    “If you vote, and you elect dishonest, incompetent politicians, and they get into office and screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You voted them in. You caused the problem. You have no right to complain.

    “I, on the other hand, who did not vote — who did not even leave the house on Election Day — am in no way responsible for what these politicians have done and have every right to complain about the mess that you created.”

  8. Daniel says:

    I disagree with this line: “Not voting is a vote for the status quo.” Not voting could just as well be a choice, especially if a person feels dis-enfranchised or cynical about the election process.

    I’m curious, with voter turnout equal to roughly 1/3 of the population (approx. 100 million voted in Bush/Gore), how few people would have to head to the ballot box before the government has to worry about issues of legitimacy?

Leave a Reply