How do we cure voter apathy in an age of disillusionment?

Voting in this country has turned into a farce. Between rigging elections, voter suppression, insufficient polling stations, corrupted primaries in the Democrat and Republican parties … it’s really no wonder that voter turnout is so dismal. Where’s the incentive? Because I know this isn’t the hope and change you were looking for.

99% of the politicians holding office are sell outs to special interests, it doesn’t matter which party their in. For Democrats their poison are environmentalists, for Republicans theirs is the military industrial complex. They only care about being like you when they need a photo op or are gunning for popular opinion. There are a handful of good guys running to try and change things from the inside, but there many people who are so disillusioned that they think this is an unrealistic feat.

So, how do we cure voter apathy in an age of disillusionment?

Here’s an idea that could increase voter turnout, get bad candidates out of office, and get a real sense of what voters want.

On every ballot, for every office up for election (and every ballot measure), in addition to the candidates running, voters should have an option to “abstain.” That means that those voters who are in fact disillusioned by the process (or simply don’t like their options) can still have their voice heard. By doing this, we’d get a far better sense of public opinion which isn’t always for one candidate over another; sometimes they both suck. Even incumbents running unopposed would have an incentive to earn your vote because they could potentially lose to “abstain.”

One common refrain I heard after the Special Election in August, was that voters didn’t like either option, and abstained their vote by not going to the polls. But their voice is not heard because we can’t distinguish between them and those who simply don’t want to vote.

So what happens if “abstain” gets 51% of the vote? The incumbent loses his seat, the challenger doesn’t get in, and the seat remains vacant until we get a serious candidate that will actually listen to the people. Same thing for ballot issues. If abstain wins over the two other options, then nothing changes and your elected officials have to offer a better solution.

“But, Kerry, if the seat remains vacant, then we’ll have no representative voice!”

True, but if we’re electing candidates who tow the party line and cow tow to corporate interests do we really have a representative voice, or just a seat warmer earning a six digit salary and a lifetime pension with way better healthcare benefits than you could ever dream of? This method could conceivably make candidates have to earn the respect of the community not just those willing to vote the lesser of two evils, a group I’m happy to say is becoming extinct.

Of course, this could all be a pipe dream. We’d have to get the state legislators to limit themselves, put their power ….err, uh, I mean seats … they’d have to put their seats on the line, the lobbyists on the back-burner, their party on the sideline, and they might actually have to start reading their emails, answering your phone calls, and talking with the voters. Can you see them doing that? It would also require taking back the electronic ballot procedures that allow rampant voter fraud to go unchecked.

In the meantime … stop playing their reindeer games.

I do believe that there are some people worth voting for and who earn their votes. These candidates are more often than not on the local level though corruption can exist there too. A good candidate is certainly worth turning out the vote. So, if you’re so inclined, go to the polls and vote for only those people who you feel have earned your vote and leave the rest blank. While your abstention won’t be counted in the same way as my idea above, but it can be enough to drive the Election Bureau nuts when they find 1000 ballots and only a total 900 votes. It could even trigger a hand count of the ballots if the candidates find this suspicious. A hand count would not only show that people are intentionally not voting for certain offices, but it would also help to show where electronic voter fraud has occurred.

This idea certainly isn’t full proof, but it’s better than what we’ve got.

Kerry Baldwin |  

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