How to Change and Improve Government Through Voting

by Torrey Nelson

Voting is the first step in becoming an active participant in a democratic society. By becoming an active participant in society, you can make the world a better place.

I have voted in nearly every election since I turned 18. In that time I have seen a lot of close races. I have also seen dramatically different candidates running for the same office. There is a difference on who gets elected. I have found that a voter can greatly improve their mark on society by pro active voting. They first should educate themselves about the candidates. They then should only vote for the good candidates, or refuse publicly to vote for the lesser of two evils.

A voter should search out accurate information about the candidates. They should not settle for the limited information that comes to them from candidates ads. By studying voting guides, alternative news sources, and watch dog groups a voter can get a much more accurate picture of the candidates. When doing this, it is important to know who wrote the guide or news. The writer will almost certainly have a bias to their point of view.

If you choose the lesser of two evils you are still choosing evil. If all you perceive is a choice between two evils then you should seek out a third and better choice. Chances are, it is there. Many times there are third party candidates that do not get much press. If there is not, you may be able to find a better person to run independently. And if no third option can be found, an abstention is always preferable to voting for the lesser of two evils. It is always better to endorse nothing then to endorse evil.

It should be noted, that there is more than one way to abstain. Just staying at home and not going to the polls sends the wrong message. This makes it look as though you don't care what the government does. In a democracy a voters absence from the polls automatically endorses any action the government takes. If the elected politician sends troops to invade another country, gives a sweet government contract to one of their friends, or raises taxes on the working class; all these things would be inherently endorsed by the non-voter. Inaction can be a destructive choice. In the 2000 United States presidential election, if all the voters who did not vote instead voted for Ralph Nader then Ralph Nader would have won. Voter participation can be that powerful. If you really want to abstain there is a better way. The proper way to abstain is to go to the polls, register, and then put a blank ballot in the ballot box. This way you are saying, "I care about what the government does, but I don't think any of the candidates listed are acceptable". Imagine what kind of media story would result if 10,000 people voted in a race but 9,000 were all abstentions. This would send a message of non confidence about the government. This would probably insure that by the next election there would be a third party candidate who is much better suited for the job. But, in order for this to happen, people have to stop voting for the lesser of two evils. They should either vote for a third party candidate or abstain. Remember, you have to go to the polls to abstain, otherwise it looks as though you don't care.

Citizens should fully educated themselves about the candidates and issues. They should only vote for good candidates or abstain by putting a blank ballot in the ballot box. They should not stay at home. After the 2000 United States presidential election there were many people who wished they would have voted. Because the race was so close they realized their vote would have made a difference, but they realized this too late. If the voters improve their performance then politicians and government will improve to the new standard set by the people. Responsible voting is one major step in making a democracy work. Responsible citizens should constantly educate themselves and actively work to improve society.

© Copyright 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005 by Torrey Nelson

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