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Voter, Heal Thyself

Whenever I get into discussions about low voter turnout and the solutions to the “problem”, I always fall back on the title of this blog post.

I recently sat on a panel with former Marion County Clerk Beth White and IUPUI Professor Sheila Kennedy for the Indy Chamber about voter participation and why it was so low.

(You can actually listen to that spirited discussion here).

During the discussion I decided to engage in what most people think is political heresy, I said I don’t think low voter participation is a bad thing, especially if people aren’t going to get informed about the candidates and the issues.

As I have stated before on numerous platforms, a bunch of people coming together to make an uninformed decision doesn’t make it a good decision, it makes it a stupid decision.  I prefer people stay away from the voting booth if they have no idea what they’re doing.

However, if we must have more voter engagement, I think there are a few things we can do.

First, we should strive for a more informed voter.  This is why I thought legislation this past session which would have compelled high school students to take a civics test prior to graduation was a good idea.

Secondly, and most importantly, I think getting rid of gerrymandering will make for more competitive races and bring out more voters.

And third, no offense to my friends in politics, I think a better crop of candidates overall is more likely to attract more voters,  If you can find people who are smart, charismatic and passionate, you are likely to get more people to show up at the polls.

But fundamentally, it’s the voter’s responsibility to take civic engagement seriously enough to not only show up, but know exactly what they’re showing up over.  Honest people of good intentions  can debate what that level of knowledge should be, but just walking in and marking a ballot and leaving with no clue as to what you are voting for or about is much worse than staying home and doing nothing.

And if you don’t believe me, take a look around you the next time you go to the polling place.

  • malercous

    If we had more informed voters the GOP wouldn’t be in control of Congress. (The last sentence of your post confirms this. Thank you.)
    Getting rid of Gerrymandered districts might increase voter turn out a bit, but it would help to curb extremists getting elected.
    I’m not too sure about a “better” slate of candidates being a good thing; charisma would help turn out, but being charismatic has no bearing on someone being a good policy maker.
    Although being totally unconstitutional, I would like to see voters who have at least a modicum of knowledge about the US Constitution. Double that for the candidates.