As you may have heard, today is Election Day. According to studies published by the University of Rochester, college students show up to the polls in larger numbers than “young people who do not attend college.” However, if their 2004 attendance at the polls was converted to a grade, college students would get a C. I’m sure those of you who are registered but don’t vote have your reasons, and I’m equally sure they aren’t good ones.
The most popular excuse tailored to this election goes something like, “I don’t like Charlie Crist or Jim Davis. I don’t feel either one represents my opinion on all the issues.” Well, guess what? Unless you’re a brainless automaton or someone with blind faith in one party – there’s no difference between the two – you will never completely agree with one candidate. There are two choices: run for governor yourself (if or when you meet the minimum age of 30 required by Florida’s Constitution) or be willing to compromise.
The second choice is the more practical one for those of us without large piles of cash lying around.
When making your pick for governor, examine each candidate’s platform, which can be found on their Web sites. Also, keep in mind there are more than two choices. This year, there are five candidates for governor. While the non-mainstream choices may not be for you, don’t ignore a candidate just because he is not backed by a donkey or an elephant.
Determine whose platform you most agree with, then think about the issues on which you disagree with the candidate. If the positive outweighs the negative, then you may have found someone worthy of your vote. To ensure you have, check the newspapers to see what has been written about him (there are only male candidates for governor this year).
If you’ve been paying attention, then you already know if there are some glaring flaws in your choice that you can’t bear. If you haven’t been paying attention, but you’re not reading this past closing time, you’re in luck. Take the time to do a quick news search to see if your candidate’s past record and positions are suitable for making good on his claims.
“I’ve examined all five candidates and they all are worthless in their own special way,” you might say.
First, I don’t agree. Second, that is a reason to not vote for any of the gubernatorial candidates, but not a reason to stay away from the polls altogether. Besides the race for governor, there are, according to the sample ballot I received from the Supervisor of Elections, 43 candidates running for 23 positions in my precinct alone. There are also six proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. Surely, you have an opinion on one of these.
After all, you don’t have to cast a vote for everything on the ballot. In fact, I don’t recommend it unless you are informed about each race. Sure, being informed about every race is commendable, but if you fall short of this goal, don’t let it stop you from voting. The misguided notion that you have to vote for every race on the ballot may lead you to vote for someone whom you will come to regard as evil personified.
If you vote for nothing else on the ballot today, ensure you vote on proposed amendment No. 3. This is an amendment asking to make it harder for future voters to make changes to Florida’s constitution. This proposal calls for any future changes to the Florida Constitution to require a super-majority of 60 percent approval in order to succeed.
Not only is this a danger to the only thing resembling direct democracy in Florida, it is an insult to Florida voters. By proposing this amendment, the Florida legislature is insulting its citizens with a lie. Voters are told they should vote to restrict their rights because they are too easily fooled by special interest groups. As a result, the state’s constitution has become cluttered.
The irony of this argument is that in the past 30 years, the people of Florida have proposed 27 amendments while the Legislature has proposed 53, according to the Bradenton Herald. By their own logic, the Legislature is far more susceptible to special interest groups and clutter. Perhaps they should have their abilities to propose amendments restricted.
It’s proposed constitutional amendments like these that illustrate the necessity of voting. In this case, the less you vote, the less your vote will mean in the future.
Josh Corban is a senior majoring in anthropology.