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"If you don't vote, you're a moron"

I was perusing the forums, and saw Scaramouch's comment about the importance of voting in this thread. It reminded me of the September 10th monologue by brand new US citizen Craig Ferguson. Doesn't it seem like the people who appreciate the right and the obligation to vote are the ones who worked the hardest for that right? If you are an immigrant to the United States, what do you think about the low voter turnout we always have here?

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16 Comments

www.apathyparty08.com

said john on October 9, 2008 5:45 PM.

Being Australian, with a population of just 22 million, it is compulsory for us to vote. If we don't we get fined.

Having lived in a America for a short while ( '95 - '96 ) and having taken a keen interest in the Presidential campaigns since, it strikes me that most Americans tend to treat Presidential campaigns as more of a spectator sport, which is a pity because there is a lot at stake.

said Spike on October 9, 2008 6:14 PM.

OTOH, do we really want morons voting?

said E on October 9, 2008 6:26 PM.

Many countries have compulsory voting laws (Spike mentions Australlia, I think Brazil does too). I always thought that was heavy handed. Yes, many people may not vote because they are lazy or really don't care, but some may not vote based on principle. There is something to be said for not voting because neither party speaks to you. Our system offers little impetus for voting for a third party.

said kbk on October 9, 2008 6:43 PM.

Since the president is more of a figurehead these days than an actual leader, what difference does it make?

Congress is running the show in washington. That's where we need to concentrate our attention when voting.

said Sheriff Pablo on October 9, 2008 7:15 PM.

Objection to the choices is no excuse for not voting. Craig is right -- voting isn't a privilege -- it's a duty.

Requiring the population to vote is not heavy-handed. It's your obligation for getting to be a member of the nation.

I understand that people may not want to choose any of the choices available to them. In that case, go to your polling station and spoil your ballot. At least you are taking part in the democratic process. You will count as having voted and your ballot will be noted and counted as a spoiled ballot. That way you are voicing your opinion that you believe in the American democracy, as well as voicing your opinion that you don't believe any of the choices available would take the country in the right direction. The only excuse for staying home on November 4th is that you're a moron. It's as simple as that.

said Stephen on October 9, 2008 8:39 PM.

I was going to check out the apathyparty08.com link, but I really don't care enough to bother....

Actually, I always make an effort to go out and vote. I also take my kids with me to the polls. (As my parents did with me and my siblings) My 16 year old is surprisingly interested in this election, and what really surprises me is that my 11 an 8 year old are also interested. I hope they continue to develop that interest as they grow up.

Sure, sometimes I'll hold my nose and vote for the candidate that I dislike the least, and sometimes I don't vote in a particular race, but there's almost always some local issue on the ballot that I can vote on. And since many people don't pay attention to the referendum votes, and I live in a small town, it's interesting to see the results, and know that my vote was one of those few that approved/disapproved that issue.

said Outback Jon on October 9, 2008 11:27 PM.

So I ought to wait 4 hours in line to spoil my ballot? I don't think so.

I would vote for local elections if I was planning on living in an area long enough to do so, but since I'm moving so often, I kind of don't think its fair for me to make a decision on a 10 year bond issue. You know? By the way, its statistically unlikely your vote will matter in a national election, but local and even state elections are ones you can swing, and they have effects you are more likely to feel.

Fining for not voting is denying a choice. Isn't choice what we are all about in this country? Even if that choice is to be disenfranchised?

said kbk on October 10, 2008 1:01 AM.

"Statistically, unlikely your vote will matter?"

By the very definition of statistics, your vote does matter. The only valid objection I see there is having to wait four hours to vote. I'm from Canada, I live in the most populous riding (district), and voting has never taken more than 15 minutes (and that's a conservative guess). I don't blame you for hating having to wait so long. I hope for the sake of all Americans that they do something about those wait times. They should make voting ridiculously easy.

As for denying the choice, you don't have a choice whether or not to pay taxes. Is that un-American? You don't have a choice to commit crime. Is that un-American? You don't have the choice to not go to school. Is that un-American? Obviously, in any functional democracy, you need to have rules. That is the point. The people make the rules (rather than, say, a king). There are somethings that the people collectively choose that an individual shouldn't have a choice about (like, say, murder). The people in the democracy make that choice -- they agree upon that rule. Now currently in your case (and in mine), the people haven't chosen to make voting mandatory -- I personally believe they should. That's my vote. You don't like the choices given to you? Tough. Pick one, or spoil your ballot. Too much of a chore? Go live in Dubai.

said Stephen on October 10, 2008 9:34 AM.

No, it's not about choice, it's about obligation and duty. There are many anti social things I could choose to do in life, but I don't for the sake of those around me. People need to stop thinking of just themselves, and contribute to something that is bigger and more important than just their personal likes and dislikes. If you want to be a part of society, you are required to actively partcipate in that society. If you value the concept of democracy, where people have the right to choose their leadership by popular vote, you absolutely have an obligation to participate in that vote. There are people dying for you to maintain that right, so you can be damn sure that waiting 4 hours in line to exercise that right is a very small inconvenience in comparison.

Man, I love America, and I wasn't even born here. But for a country that holds so much value in "We the people", there's so many that seem to put "me" above "we".

Sorry KBK, you touched a nerve. :)

said Scaramouch on October 10, 2008 9:35 AM.

4 hours to vote is not the norm....I've never waited more than half an hour...and every county in my state now has early voting---from the 16th til the 1st you can cast your vote, or you can absentee ballot it even now.

That being said, you have as much of a right not to vote as you do TO vote...but really think about it before you choose not to this year.
Many of us would not have had the right to vote decades ago--whether you are female, a minority, an immigrant, etc--at some point, you would not have been able to cast your vote in our great nation. Don't throw away what someone else fought to give you the right to do without thinking about it first...

(SO steps down off of her soapbox, curtsies, walks away)

said sarcastic one on October 10, 2008 10:10 AM.

Just because you CAN do something (not voting) doesn't mean you SHOULD. The only reason your vote may be seen to be inconsequential is because its a big country. The reason its a big country is because so many people wanted to come here and participate in democracy. But now so many who never knew any other way of life take that for granted.

We were surprised to find out how VERY consequential each vote was in Florida in 2000, and in Ohio in 2004. It might come down to such a scenario this year, and it won't be in either of those two states.

said Miss Cellania on October 10, 2008 11:20 AM.

Oh yeah, four hours is unacceptable. I waltz into my precinct and vote immediately -no waiting. Which is a bit depressing in itself.

said Miss Cellania on October 10, 2008 11:22 AM.

Scara, I totally agree with you that people should be responsible citizens and contribute. (My beef is more with the people who bitch about their taxes when we got a couple wars on and a zillion dollar deficit.) As far as someone not voting though, how does that hurt anyone? Maybe they don't find any of the candidates to their liking. Makes my vote count that much more no? And, it is a choice in itself as KBK said, though kind of a negative one.

The 4 hours thing is pretty bad. For some reason they picked Tuesday as election day so if you work for a living, 4 hours might mess you up. Not everyone is going get time off.

On a more positive note, you can generally get the absentee ballot as SO pointed out. That's what I do and I have all the time in the world to review the ballot initiatives. (Choosing a candidate is a no brainer for me this time.)

said E on October 10, 2008 12:27 PM.

Oh well, I guess I'm an aberration. I'm committed in my inaction. Most people engaged in inaction would be so much more apathetic about it.

Stephen, I don't think you know your statistics, but I don't plan to get involved in that discussion. I simply meant, the odds of my vote being a deciding one were astronomically slim. But, ones definition of "matters" is completely subjective, and I can totally see the other side of that discussion.

said kbk on October 10, 2008 6:16 PM.

Most righteous rant....EVER!

Well done Craig.

said matt on October 12, 2008 5:18 PM.
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