published Friday, July 13th, 2012

Early apathy

Why don't 13-year-olds get to vote?

It's not that people in that age group are stupid or want to do the country harm. It's that they are generally immature and uninformed, so it would be hard for them to exercise sound judgment in a matter as important as electing officials ranging from city council members to presidents.

Of course, with a few exceptions, adult U.S. citizens are entitled to vote. And that is as it should be.

But that does not mean that every adult who casts a ballot is mature and well informed. And while the right to vote should be protected even for those who cannot be bothered to think about the issues and where the candidates stand, there is no special virtue in society bending over backwards to increase voter turnout among the least informed and the marginally interested.

That brings us to early voting, which has begun in Georgia already and starts today in Tennessee.

The theory behind early voting is that it will increase turnout and civic engagement, whereas having virtually everyone vote on Election Day would keep some people from casting ballots because they might be sick, vacationing or working long hours.

Let us stipulate that circumstances can arise that keep even committed voters from getting to the ballot box on Election Day.

But can we also stipulate that probably for the vast majority of people who vote ahead of Election Day, it is a matter of convenience, not of genuine necessity?

And then can we offer the politically incorrect acknowledgement that those who will vote only if it is made hyper-convenient are not particularly likely to have studied up on the issues and candidates?

It is a sign not of civic engagement but of profound civic disengagement that so many American citizens must be lured into the ballot box by early voting.

And oh, what they miss on Election Day!

Yes, there can be long lines at some voting sites, and casting a ballot on Election Day proper might require some folks to adjust their schedules.

But standing in line with fellow citizens to exercise the precious right to vote on a specially designated day engenders a tremendous and worthwhile sense of civic urgency and involvement. That cannot be duplicated by voting early at sites where there may or may not even be another voter in sight.

Early voting is not likely to go away anytime soon. But Americans who want to experience the full joy and solemnity of the right to vote would do well to cast their ballots on Election Day.

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Thanks for saying your real priority for voting. Making voting a controlled and limited franchise, so you can limit it.

But I notice one oversight in your letter. You complain about early voting, but absentee voting? Not one complaint, not one mention.

I strongly suspect that's because you expect that to be an advantage to you. I bet if it came up, you'd look for more exceptions and more reasons to include absentee voters. Your omission is rather telling.

But you know what? I'm going to go do Early Voting just to spite you, because you know what I'll enjoy? Knowing that discriminatory people like you who want to reduce the franchise are hysterical about it.

Thanks for encouraging me.

July 13, 2012 at 12:18 a.m.
librul said...

Yeah, well, I'm votong early at the Election Commission office because some twit decided to move my polling place to a freakin' church - something I consider subversive to our democracy, which is supposed to embrace separation of church and state. And I think it is PARTICULARLY repugnant in the current political climate in which one party seems determined to move America toward theocracy.

July 13, 2012 at 12:45 a.m.
anniebelle said...

I'm definitely voting early, just in case these unAmerican Block The Vote enablers just might have moved my polling place without my knowledge. I'm surprised we don't have monitors from other countries oversee our fraudulent elections - they should.

July 13, 2012 at 6 a.m.
anniebelle said...

“Based on what we know, we have not seen any state efforts that are adequate to educate voters in this short amount of time,” Penda Hair of the Advancement Project told TPM. “But I think even more importantly, even if a voter finds out that they have to get this ID, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be able to do it — they still have to get a copy of their birth certificate, pay the cost, go to a DMV that may not even exist in their county.”

One study by the Brennan Center found that nationwide, up to five million traditionally Democratic voters could be affected by the new state laws.

July 13, 2012 at 6:43 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

Which is worse, uninformed voters or misinformed voters?

July 13, 2012 at 7:24 a.m.
chatt_man said...

I couldn't help but think about Easy123 while reading the beginning of this article.

And happy, you're either going to have to change your name or improve your haven't been too happy recently.

July 13, 2012 at 8:47 a.m.
Easy123 said...


If I'm immature and uninformed, what are you? Comatose? Unconscious? Or just a ninnyhammer?

July 13, 2012 at 8:56 a.m.
conservative said...

We cannot expect the Americans to jump from capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving Americans small doses of socialism until they suddenly awake to find they have Communism. ( anonymous)

July 13, 2012 at 9:25 a.m.
conservative said...

I meant to post that comment on the loontoonist's page but the warning should be heard by all.

July 13, 2012 at 9:43 a.m.
theMirror said...

I am reminded of this graphic

Some seem to have skipped over the point. That people who want ease of voting may very well be too "busy" to be making informed votes. This is not about electing cheerleaders on a high school squad after all.

Lkeithlu got it loud and clear. "Which is worse, uninformed voters or misinformed voters?"

Our founders clearly wanted people to be educated and informed, but today most people just look for the party label. Which is often mislabeled. I really do wonder what would happen if people went to the polls and only names of candidates where listed, no party labels. Then people would at least have to have paid attention to the people and not sheepishly follow some party shepherd.

And Librul, geesh. Going to a church to vote upsets you that much? There don't seem to be enough public buildings to hold elections; what do you suggest?

July 13, 2012 at 9:58 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

What a ridiculous article! There is no possible way for anyone to know whethere there is even the slightest link between early voting and those early voters being "misinformed" or not fully invested in the voting process. What I find incomprehensible and pathetic are those puzzling independents and swing voters who can't make up their everlovin' minds. As polarized politically as we are today, and as glaring as the differences are between the candidates, there is no excuse for someone being so wishy-washy that they have to wait 'til the last minute to make up their feeble minds who to vote for.

July 13, 2012 at 10:55 a.m.
chatt_man said...

Rickaroo, I agree. It makes you wonder if the "swing voters" are just people that aren't decided (which I think could classify as less informed), or hesitant to tell anyone their intentions because they might have to defend them. Again, less informed.

July 13, 2012 at 11:52 a.m.

Vote early, vote often.

July 13, 2012 at 4:05 p.m.
MountainJoe said...

anniebelle, the day the politicians remove the requirement for me to show ID in order to buy alcohol or purchase a firearm ... that's the day I'll support removing the requirement to show ID in order to vote. Not one day before.

July 13, 2012 at 9:13 p.m.
Easy123 said...


You aren't very intelligent then. Voter ID laws serve no purpose. They only disenfranchise people.

July 13, 2012 at 11:16 p.m.
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