This has nothing to do with election fraud.  Over the years I have lived in many states across the United States, and I have seen something people do in voting which is … well, founded only in habit or conditioning, and not understanding.  With the primary elections coming up, it’s definitely worth pointing this out.

Voting is an expression of one’s opinion or preference on a representative or issue, where they have knowledge and a vested interest.  It’s not a test.

By now, everyone who grew up in America has experienced the multi-choice testing form as they went to school.  It’s known as a mark-sense form which requires a #2 pencil (or the digital equivalent in modern times).

Those old tests in school have engrained a way of thinking about multi choice questions on ballots, which isn’t applicable.  In school, you answered the questions you know on the test, and skipped the ones you didn’t … hoping your brain would give you the answer as you answered the others. But at the end, there were some blanks on the questions.  And what do you do when that happens?  Simple.  There are points when getting the question right, and no penalty for guessing wrong … because no answer is counted as incorrect on those tests.  So, take your best guess(es) and don’t leave anything blank on the test,  and you can actually get a better score if you are right.

But on a ballot, you don’t have to cast a vote for every item. There is no right or wrong, and there is no gain for guessing (in fact there is a risk of damage when it’s done), or penalty if it is left blank.  If all you cared about is the President of the United States, you can vote for the President, hand in your ballot, and it’s a valid ballot which is counted. If all you had was an opinion on who should be your local representatives, do the same with only the local representatives.  I am always amazed at the number of people I talk to who have voted as if it were a test requiring answers to questions, and just guessed at how they should vote.

And quite frankly, you shouldn’t vote for anything you are unfamiliar with–especially if it does not impact you.  I left two items on the Florida ballot as unvoted (i.e. no opinion) this year, because I have no opinion on either.  One was for a circuit court judge, and the other for a local ordinance.

If you vote for something just because the conditioning of school taught you to not leave anything blank, you will inevitably vote for or against something you do not understand.  That’s the danger of democracy: it only works the way it should when the voters actually understand what or who they are voting for, and why they are doing it.  Empowering the masses is great, until the masses stop thinking and treat every entry on the ballot as something accountable.

The fact that you voted makes you feel good, but little habits like voting outside of your understanding… undo the good that voting is supposed to accomplish.

NOTE: Years earlier I posted about one of the best ways to get educated about voting issues.  Sadly, I’ve only seen it in Los Angeles County: it’s the voter’s guide released by the County government.  In 30 minutes, you could walk in to the polls with a decent understanding on what you were voting for, free of commercial or personal bias in the information.  The reader gets both sides of the issue.. and a lot more detail than a two-line bullet statement.