HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Voting — or not

Written March 11th, 2013 by
It doesn't say it's mandatory, does it?

It doesn’t say it’s mandatory, does it?

I don’t know why we are always urging people to vote no matter what. If an election is in the offing, it is customary for civic-minded voices in public to say things like: “Regardless of which way you decide, be sure to vote.” And yes, there’s great value attached to the act of voting itself, considering that it’s a basic right of citizenship. But voting alone, by itself, is hardly enough.

How about  some other kind of public advice when voting is a possibility, as it is until Tuesday night, March 12, on a couple of Albany ballot measures dealing with city administration? How about this, for instance: “If you haven’t done so already, go ahead and vote, but if you’re not sure which way to vote, don’t feel an obligation to cast a ballot just because somebody asked you to.” Or: “Voting is an important right, but there is also a right to abstain, to pass up a chance to vote if you don’t feel like it.” Or: “If you’ve heard conflicting claims about these issues and can’t make up your mind which ones to believe, feel free to skip voting rather than making a mistake.”

Keep in mind what is remembered about elections years after they’ve taken place. What’s remembered is not how many citizens helped make the decision, but whether in the light of subsequent events the outcome was helpful to the public — or not. (hh)

From Ray Kopczynski: All of your “How about…” voting possibilities are good with one caveat. IF we are ever faced with a super-majority requirement to pass anything, then a person’s inability to become an informed voter defeats the system because their abstention may, in fact, cause the issue to fail simply because the requisite number of voters did not cast a ballot.


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