One of the most frustrating things I hear from people going to vote is that they have no idea for whom they are going to vote. It’s not that I have a problem with them having not yet made up their mind, rather, my problem lies with their general lack of understanding. If a person has not yet decided for whom they are going to vote, that tells me they have no idea about any amendments that may be proposed on the ballot.
My issue is that no one can possibly make an informed decision regarding a proposed amendment within twenty seconds of first reading the proposal. First of all, proposed amendments are written in legalese and, even those of us with JD’s sometimes have a hard time understanding what we’re reading. Second, people are generally rushed at the ballot box and may simply skim the proposal or may not even understand the proposal at all and, yet, they still vote up or down. Lastly, my issue is more with the process regarding proposed amendments rather than the individual voter. I cannot fathom how the ordinary citizen can possibly make an informed decision about a proposed law without a full understanding of the implications of the law.
So, how does one become an informed voter? Do your own research and your own thinking; don’t let others think for you. Familiarize yourself with the candidates and proposed amendments prior to election day. Learn about the candidates and what they stand for. Find one that most aligns with your viewpoints (you’ll never find a perfect match) and select that person to be your elected official. Understand the proposed amendments and what they’re attempting to accomplish by becoming law. Decide for yourself if you think the law would be a good law or not and vote up or down.
I am a big advocate of voting. But, I also believe voting is a great responsibility entrusted to the citizenry. Therefore, I am a bigger advocate of informed voting. Furthermore, I believe that if you are truly unable to determine which candidate you like better or whether you would prefer the proposal become law, it is absolutely okay to leave that portion of the ballot blank. If you are unable to reach an informed decision, it’s better to leave it blank than make an uninformed and hasty vote that may end up being contrary to your beliefs.
It is important to vote and have your voice heard. But, take the responsibility seriously and inform yourself.