<strong>LOGAN—</strong> There is an anecdote I heard years ago – the veracity of which I cannot confirm – regarding the presidential election of 1796.
Two brothers, farmers both, hitched their trusty mule to their wagon and traveled two hours in a cold drizzle to cast their ballots. The one brother voted for Thomas Jefferson, the other, for John Adams. They used an entire day travelling to and fore in the rain just to cancel out each other’s vote.
Few things make my eyes roll back inside my head in a vain attempt to control my apoplectic rage more than hearing people talk about voting as a civic duty – or, the dangerously trite argument that all Americans should be forced by law to vote. (Irony Alert: Let’s put that on a ballot and see who shows up)
Voting is a right held and used by choice by every single American that is at least 18 years of age. And in my hometown of Philadelphia, you can vote even if you stopped breathing years ago. The real zombie apocalypse can be found in any South Philly polling place on Election Day. The dead magically come back to life and vote Democrat en masse.
For many Americans, this is a right they simply do not want to exercise. If idle dullards do not wish to be a part of the process, we should not coax them off their couches and into an act they are disinclined to engage in.
The less people that vote, the more powerful my vote becomes. I don’t want the generally uninformed and unfortunately doltish to vote. Stay home. Watch “My Little Pony” reruns. Please, take a seat on the sidelines and let the smart people handle this. Namely, Me.
What adds to my exacerbation even more is the methods we use to cajole the defiantly pallid among us into this important act. Recent stories of free marijuana being offered to people who come out to vote littered my Twitter feed. I suppose in lieu of a big “I VOTED” sticker, these cannabis-enabled voters would be handed a bag of Doritos.
And then there is vote by mail. Great! The same people who lose my Netflix DVDs for a week are going to be the gatekeepers to the validity of the electoral process.
Internet voting? Voting on smartphones? Will pollsters have to start analytical equations regarding the Angry Birds voters? This is implausibly wacky.
This leads to my all-time favorite activity, early voting. Now, allow me to say that early voting is a good option for those who know they will not be in town on Election Day. Campaign workers, police, EMTs and military personnel are just a few of the people who we should all bend over backwards to ensure have their voices heard. The group I have a problem with is those who vote early out of some pompous belief that it is a patriotic act.
In short, early voters are the type of people who put up their Christmas lights the day after Halloween (yes today). They are the people who reveal the end of a new movie you planned on seeing this weekend. They are those absurd jerks who tell you what to get them for their birthday.
I’ll buy you socks and you will like it.
The problem with unnecessary early voting is that there may be issues that you might have a change of mind about. Information may come up that switches your vote from one candidate to another.
Example: Let us say some random candidate, not resembling anyone real, stated last summer they wanted to gut FEMA. And then a not-based-on-current-events hurricane devastates a state that rhymes with Zoo Schmersey. And this candidate, looking foolish for opposing such a valued program that saves lives and is engineered to lead relief efforts of horrific natural disasters, tries to deny he ever wanted to gut FEMA – and refuses to answer direct questions on the subject.
An early voter who voted for this (hypothetical) insincere slimeball might find that to be one lie too many to swallow. They might want to dump this guy for any other candidate. Tough cookies. You are stuck with Rom … err, Mr. X.
I once voted in a municipal election decided by one vote. And yes, I voted for the winner. I fully understand how every single vote can be tantamount to victory. I also know that the Vox Populi can make their will known by NOT voting. Silence can speak louder than any trumpet. Ignoring elections might be cynical and/or lazy, but as inactions go, it speaks volumes. This is not the argument I make here.
I do not want the vastly important act of voting to be so readily available to those who refuse to show the slightest bit of interest in how they are governed. Allow their apathy to feed their inactivity and keep the integrity of the electoral process solid for those committed to a better country – and smart enough to take part in that process.
<em>Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to CacheValleyDaily.com. His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees. </em>