Thursday, September 21, 2006
Earlier this week we had the primary elections in Washington State, and let me just say that the polls did not seem overly crowded when I stopped by. It turns out that a grand total of about 95,000 people cast votes in our state. This works out to about eleven percent of all registered voters. Eleven percent! And that is just of registered voters. Voter apathy is a major problem in the U.S. political system where even major races are considered "high turn-out" when only fifty or sixty percent of voters cast ballots. Of course, other countries face this problem too, and that has led some to impose a fine on all voters who don't show. In most cases this increases turn out dramatically, but many people argue that this is not always a good thing. If we force people to vote on subjects about which they are not informed, we may be surprised at what we get by way of results. The founding fathers thought they had solved this question by only allowing rich, white, male citizens to vote, but that philosophy had certain, ahem, flaws. What do you think? Is it better to "encourage" the masses to cast a vote, any vote, as a way of ensuring the health of democracy? Or should we let the few, the bored, the opinionated, the (hopefully) well-informed to make the choices?