Got some interesting reactions to yesterday’s post about reasons people give for not voting.
Sandi from Sappy as a Tree said the post reminded her to get absentee ballots for her kids, who are attending college out-of-state. Glad I was able to help, Sandi.
Susan Gourley, who writes for her eponymous blog, commented that “Too many elections there seems to be only a choice between two evils.” This is the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” position. The lesser of two evils is still evil, and there doesn’t seem to be a way around it. Meanwhile, Sue Archer over at Doorway Between Worlds, was surprised to learn that there were so many elections in the United States are uncontested, and remarked “How discouraging for the process!” It is, and I’ll have a suggestion for how to fix both of those situations in a minute.
Rachel, from Rachel Also Writes, said that, in Australia, voting is mandatory, and you can be fined for not voting. She also said “they always have sausage sizzles and Australians love sausage sizzles.”
I’m not certain what sausage sizzles are, but I know if they were promising free food, I’d be encouraged to vote. I’d try to vote three or four times, in fact. I did say I was from Chicago, didn’t I? By the way, Oprah Winfrey started her career in Chicago…
I don’t know if Americans could be bought off with food, unfortunately, but I think we might be on to something there. As it is, most states give away a sticker that you can put on and walk around all day, announcing “I’m better than you are! I voted!” Kind of dorky-looking. At least the ones we have in Georgia are.
Now, what I think we ought to have is a lottery. Vote, and you’re entered in a lottery with ten prizes of $100,000. The probability of winning would be kind of low, but someone has to win.
Now, back to the situations where both candidates are lousy or there’s only one in the running: Give people the option of voting “no.”
The idea of doing this has been bandied about for years now, and I think it’s time it was given more thought.
Right now, most elections are between a Democrat and a Republican. There might be a candidate from the Libertarian Party or the Green Party, or someone running as an independent, and there’s always the option of writing someone in, but by and large, the choice is between the Democrat and the Republican. Well, if you don’t like either of them, your choices are not to cast a vote, write someone in, “Eeny meeny miney mo,” or vote for one of the third-party or independent candidates.
Add “None of the above,” or NOTA, to the ballot, and you’ll always have a choice. Now, if you like neither the Democrat nor the Republican, you can deny them both your vote and make it count. If NOTA wins, both parties choose someone new and the election is held again. If someone is running uncontested, they now have competition.
In the case of the Presidential election, the Constitution already stipulates that the House of Representatives chooses the President and the Senate chooses the Vice President. If NOTA won originally, they would be required to choose someone other than the two original candidates.
Think of it this way: the percentage of eligible voters in the United States has been between 49% (1996) and either 57.5% or 58.2% (last election) since 1968. Those elections were decided not by the people voting, but the people not voting. No vote is as good as a vote for the candidate who wins. Therefore, Barack Obama, who received 50.1% of the vote from those who bothered to show up and cast a ballot, was chosen by 29% of the eligible voters in this country. Mitt Romney received 47.2% of the actual votes, but was chosen by 27% of the eligible voters. If enough of the 44% of people who either voted for a third-party candidate (generally a protest vote) or who didn’t even show up were enticed by the NOTA option, it’s likely we’d have a President and a Vice President other than either Obama and Joe Biden or Romney and Paul Ryan.
Which is precisely why we’ll never see it happen.
Oh, well. Maybe we could go with sausage sizzles…