Friday, November 7, 2014

Voting is easy … intelligent voting, not so much

I went early to vote Tuesday, Nov. 4. As I hoped, the line was short. The hallway and voting room were quiet and the chitchat was whispery but clearly heard by all.

One lady in a pink sweatshirt was talking low on her cell phone, calling someone else to tell her how to vote. She obviously had no idea what was even on the ballot: “Hi, it’s me. So I am here at the library. OK. How should I vote? I have no idea. OK. Yes on number three and no on all others? OK thanks.”

And then there was the husband and wife there to vote together, side-by-side booths. It was an endearing sight. There was nothing whispery about how they planned to exercise one of their most critical American freedoms.

HIM: I don’t know any of these people, I am just voting for the first one on the list.
HER: I am voting for that one guy because he had a sign in Geneva’s yard. The sign was nice. And big.
HIM: I am just here to vote for my favorite old baseball player. He was a great second baseman.
HER: What’s he running for?
HIM: No matter, I’m voting for him!

I threw a look at the women at the table who were Election Day poll workers, waiting for one of them to ask the uninformed pair to be quiet. I mean these “election inspectors” kind of have a duty to keep the polling place orderly, right? Aren’t they supposed to take all necessary measures to ensure that the voter casts his or her vote in secret?

It was almost my turn to show my ID and sign in on the precinct clipboard. The people in back of me appeared to know each other and were discussing the ballot for all to hear.

HER: Hey neighbor! Good to see you out voting!
HIM: Well I don’t know crap about who is running and they are all liars, but it’s our duty to vote. Americans have died for democracy and I want that “I VOTED” sticker.

I shifted my attention away from the neighbors to the husband and wife pair, still in the side-by-side booths punching away.

HER: Who was that sheriff that we liked? Is he on here?
HIM: That was a long time ago. I don’t see him on here anywhere. I don’t even see a vote for sheriff.

By that time, I was really annoyed, thinking to myself: Never underestimate the power of a huge group of clueless people.

I am one of those who have been saying for months “get out there and vote” to anyone who will listen. I have said it a hundred times – I don’t care how you vote, just vote. And I meant that.

But I looked around the polling place Tuesday morning and saw only a few people that I thought were making an informed, decisive vote. The rest seemed confused, wielding the punch pen with wild abandon. Has our system become so complex and our campaigns so devious that few of our citizens know how to make good choices?

Later that night, I listened to “the people have spoken!” and “Americans have sent a message!” This morning I read one of the endless articles about voter turnout, blasting people who were eligible to vote but didn’t. I haven’t seen anything about how many of the Americans voted randomly, aimlessly, without looking once at the ballot or evaluating the candidates. And, frankly, I don’t want to.

Here at OOIDA, we spent months gathering info to help our members and other professional truck drivers make worthy choices on the ballot. We talked issues, track records, what’s at stake and who walks the walk. It was in the magazine, online at fightingfortruckers.com, in the social media and on our radio show. Based on conversations we had with truckers prior to Election Day, professional drivers might be a smaller segment of voters, but I’ll bet they voted smarter than the general public.

Voting is easy. Intelligent voting, not so much.