Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Voting: Why I Bother

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I just now left me a bigass comment over to StageLeft an' I'm rollin' it into this here boog story. Over to StageLeft, SL hisself was tellin' how he's gonna voice his disapproval of the whole dang system by spoilin' his ballot. If yer thinkin' along them lines, SL's got some specific instruction that'll help. Commenter an' gummint-loathin' libertarian Ian Scott sez he ain't gonna bother wastin' his time votin' an' he recommends we do somethin' more enjoyable like maybe fly-fishin'.

Well, I reckon I’ll hafta disagree with Ian. I’ll be goin’ over to the Lions Hall sometime today an’ castin’ my vote. I’ll be votin’ for the Green guy an’ fer the MMP. The Greens’ll get about 4% in my rural riding. MMP’ll fail. The miserably flawed system will have pretty much negated my two losing choices.

Why will I bother participating? It’s the best and only system we’ve got.

I don’t think MMP is perfect but I do think it’s an improvement over the status quo and worthy of my support. My vote for my local GPC loser sends a message to my winning PC MPP that there’s a handful o’ Mother Earth-lovin’ treehuggers among his constituents.

I respect StageLeft's spoiled ballot. He's at least tryin’ to say somethin’. I don’t reckon very many people are gonna unnerstand just what it is his spoiled ballot’s tryin’ to say but his follow-up letter to the MPP is a good idea.

I ain’t fer stayin’ away an’ not votin’, though. It ain’t outta any dumbass, flag-wavin’, democracy-toutin’ patriotism. It also ain’t outta any party loyalty tribalism. I vote so that the winner understands that the ones who voted for him aren’t the only ones he’s duty bound to represent.

I never voted until I was about 40, BTW. My philosophy was that the civil servants, diplomats, police, courts and military — all unelected — really ran the show and who held political power didn’t matter much. The system wasn’t perfect enough for me. Now, I’m more willing to exercise what little power I have in what’s likely to be the best system I’ll ever live within.

I think non-voters are wrong in the notion that “they” will try to entice you into the ranks of voters. Those in power are benefitted by low voter turnout — particularly in FPTP. If a candidate or party can get a relatively small but dedicated following that can be counted upon to vote, they can win. If only 60% vote in a 3 way race, the number of votes needed to be FPTP is quite tiny. Those in power know very well that many of the non-voters are disgruntled and would not likely support the status quo. Who needs ‘em? They only dilute the electorate and make it tougher to be FPTP.

Yeow! I sure can get to blatherin’.



Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Just for the record, I think SL was talking about DECLINING his ballot, not spoiling it. They are two different things. Spoiling your ballot can be a form of protest, but your ballot just gets lumped in with all the ballots of people who couldn't figure out how to mark their ballots properly.

DECLINING your ballot means you say to the officials, basically, "I see the choices before me, and I refuse to vote in this election". Your ballot is taken note of, and registered as "declined" (i.e. "refused to cast a vote") something different from "spoiled" (i.e. "incorrectly marked the ballot").

Just FYI.

I agree that spoiled ballots don't necessarily carry a message (afterall, did you INTEND to spoil the ballot, or are you just dim???). However, declined ballots come right out and say "I came to the polling station, I took my ballot, I was aware of the choices before me, and I refused to vote for any of those people, so I returned my ballot unmarked". Whether that message is ever heard is another question (it's not) but it is a message sent, imho.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Yer right, LKO. My apologies fer the confusin' and incorrect terminology. SL described it well enough. I equated "spoiled" with "declined". My error.

I still say, though, that the message sent by such a ballot is unclear.


Anonymous said...

I think a protest vote for an underdog is more effective than a spoil or a decline. Honestly they don't care if you don't vote, it's certainly better than voting against them.

The system is already broken and they have done their best to keep it that way, convincing us to stay at home makes it that much more of a private fight between their various jack booted followers waving their blue,red and orange books like so many little maoists.

I'd rather scare the shit out of them and threaten the status quo by going green than accepting the futility of it all and declining the ballot. My first Green vote was for just that reason, only after did I investigate enought to honestly support them.

Snerd Gronk said...

"... Your ballot is taken note of, and registered as "declined" ..."

SG: Correct ... As in, for example, Ralph Declined, I believe.

Or as in,

Your Truly,

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Thankee fer chimin' in, Gabby an' Snerd.

The election turned out pretty much like I thought. MMP an' the PC's both did a bit worse than I figgered they would. We got about 4.5% GPC vote here in Haldimand-Norfolk. Ol' Toby Barrett PC is still our MPP. He won by a lot.


Karen said...

I've come to believe that every race on a ballot should have a place to tick that reads "None of the above". If "none of the above" wins, the parties have to pick someone else to run. Of course, the problem with this is that friggin' elections are so expensive. In America, "none" would probably win most elections in a landslide. On the national level, it's been a long time since I've voted "for" someone, rather than "against" a candidate.