Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why Hoosiers Don't Vote

Cartoon by BALOO

This piece by Michael Morrison originally appeared in the Goshen News.

Indiana voters were Indiana non-voters in droves this past Election Day.
And editorial pages, including the Goshen News, expressed horror and dismay: Why, they asked, don’t people show up at the polls?
There are, in fact, several reasons.
In no particular order, those include:
1) Very poor education from the government schools as to what elections are about and, more important, and even worse explained, what government is about.
2) Very poor information from the so-called “news” media, except, of course, for the Goshen News.
For example, both media and academia continue to mis-lead the people that there are only two political parties. Occasionally they might mention a new-party or independent candidate, but brush him off, implying or even stating he can’t win principally because he is not with the two old parties. (Interestingly, right here in our state, according to Ballot Access News, on November 4, Indiana independent candidate Mark Smith was elected to the Montgomery County Council in district 3. http://www.ballot-access.org/2014/12/rare-win-for-an-indiana-independent-candidate/)
One evil of an alleged two-party system is that both tend to cater to that amorphous middle, rather than taking a principled stand on any issue.
With no principles under discussion, what we get instead is demagoguery, including racism and class warfare.
If anyone, including editorial writers, really wants more voter turn-out, here are some ideas to increase it, also in no particular order:
1) Instant Run-off Voting. This is also known as weighted or ranked voting. It means voters get to state preferences in order. Say I prefer, as first choice, the Libertarian Party candidate. I put a one (1) by his name; for second choice, maybe I want a Green Party contender, so I put a two (2) by his; for third, perhaps the Constitution Party nominee; then if I want a Republican or Democrat, I can put a number beside their names.
One benefit: All those people who say, “Gosh, I really want your guy, but he can’t win so I hafta go with one of the two old-party people” this way get to make their first choice clear without worrying the old-party candidate they really hate waltzes in.
(Just consider how many people have said, “I sure wish a Libertarian could win, but he can’t so I have to go with …” Usually it’s a Republican, but by no means always. Or, “I sure wish a Green could win but he can’t so I have to go with …” Usually it’s a Democrat, but by no means always. There are many of us who won’t vote for a Republican or a Democrat under any circumstances.)
Of course, this also means we must have
2) Easier ballot access. That is, more parties must be allowed to list their candidates.
Anyone wanting more voter turn-out must want more choices on the ballot.
By and large, voters are sick to death of having to pick an alleged lesser evil. We all know, or at least most of us do, that the lesser of two evils is still evil. We don’t want an evil, and if one is going to be thrust upon us, we don’t want to be party to allowing it.
A few other changes in government are also vital, again in no particular order:
1) Term limits. Maybe, in fact, this is the most important of all. One reason government is so rotten, not just corrupt, but slovenly and inefficient, is that elected officials live mostly for re-election. Doing the job is secondary to preparing for the next election campaign.
2) Eliminate pensions and other perquisites and benefits, the “perks and bennies” we so often hear about. Living off the working and producing people is wrong, and there is no justification for it.
They keep using the phrase “public service,” so let it be a service, not a highly profitable career.
With these changes, more people would feel there actually is a reason to participate, to go vote, and not just to vote against, because there would be some real choices.

Editor: Here are some Internet links, including one that, serendipitously, discusses an Indiana candidate: http://www.ballot-access.org/
From Michael Morrison, editormichael@rocketmail.com
Michael Morrison is a former journalist, in print and broadcast news, and a former classical music radio announcer, and currently is a free-lance editor, available for independent contractor work on books, essays, letters to the editor, term papers, and anything else – cheap!


  1. Absolutely brilliant! There ought to be more work from this great writer.
    And the cartoon? Priceless.

  2. This version of my column was the original, but was too long for the paper, which printed another somewhat less than half the length. And less funny.
    Michael Morrison