Haven’t voted yet today? Don’t bother. Certainly, there are exceptions to this blanket order. If you are already set on your candidates and measures but just haven’t yet slipped into a polling place or dropped off an absentee ballot, that’s fine. Go ahead and keep that date with civic duty. You’ve done your due diligence and chances are you’ve actually taken time to know a little something about at least some of the people and issues and positions in this contest. The admonishment to sit this one out is not for you.
But if reading these words is your first indication that today even is Election Day, keep on drinking your coffee or chewing your sandwich. No need to frantically search for that sample ballot and voter guide. Don’t waste precious time firing up the Internet in a desperate hope for quick information. No worries if that glut of unread political mailers is buried under a pile of sticky bottles and wadded newspaper in the recycling bin.
Election Day, especially only hours before the polls close, is a less than opportune time to make up for months of apathy. This is not democracy speed dating.
Even if you are already standing in line at the polls while reading this, with nothing but the editorial endorsement list to guide your pending choices, go home. Of course, the Daily Journal in its wise counsel offers the two cents it thinks the educated voter should consider, but that one perspective is meant to be a tool in the box and not the entire set.
Besides, you’re probably only at the polling location to nab a snazzy, patriotically-hued “I voted” sticker which reminds coworkers and others throughout the day that you are politically aware if not necessarily politically savvy. You also get to feel superior to those who, as previously mentioned, missed out on the fact that today is the primary election. If this is the case, get out of line and come on over. I’ll give you a sticker. Or, at least a Post-It with a badly drawn flag.
I’m tired of imploring the masses to vote. One can only shake the trees hard for so long before growing weary of not having any fruit to show for the effort. Maybe the voting advocates have been wrong, seeing the privilege through misguided rose-colored glasses. The goal needs to be not just getting voters to turn out but have them turn out quasi-literate about what is being asked on the ballot.
We should demand these choices not be made by legions of followers with no personal opinions who simply follow the directives of others or those who prefer the ol’ eeny-meeny-miney-moes method of choice. This isn’t a standardized test where options “B” or “C” are pretty good guesses. There is no partial credit. Voting is an all or nothing proposition.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there are one or two or 10 or 300 people who can cram months of political information into their brains and process it into a thoughtful decision, zooming from zero to 60 on the good citizen scale.
Heading into today, the talking heads all warn that voter turnout may be at a historical low. They cite the June primary date, the lack of a presidential race, confusion on the new California top-two primary process.
Locally, a number of county races are uncontested and only the voters in the two supervisorial districts up for grabs have a say in those seats which may keep residents of the other districts unmotivated.
So don’t worry about it if you stay home. Chances are, you’ll be in good company. Just remember that by abdicating your opportunity at the ballot box today you are also rejecting any right to the public soapbox later.
Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: email@example.com.