Shaming people to vote

So I voted today, as I always do. However angry I get at the rigged system that is currently in place, I have this unshakeable feeling that I need to go out and vote. But I do understand why some might feel that they cannot in good conscience vote using the lesser-of-two-evils doctrine and I oppose efforts to shame principled non-voters into feeling that they are somehow shirking their civic duty. This is why I never wear the ‘I Voted Today’ sticker that they give me.

Interestingly, a few days ago I got a mailer from the Ohio Democratic party telling me how many times I had voted in the last five elections and giving me a 5/5 score. It also said that the average for my neighbors was 3/5, though it did not define what constituted my neighborhood, making the information somewhat useless.

This seems to be part of the new strategy of getting out the vote by trying to shame people who are voting below the local average to go to the polls. I have no idea how successful this is. But there was something a little disquieting about the fact that people are keeping track of your voting habits even though this is a matter of public record and, in the wake of the Snowden revelations, a pretty minor level of monitoring.

If people really wanted to increase turnout, shifting voting to Sunday’s would probably have a much greater effect. But we know that many politicians do not want to increase voting, especially among the poor and alienated since they might upset the comfortable status quo.


  1. Ed says

    Even though both sides are essentially right wing, warmongering plutocrats, there is enough difference on a few issues to matter; particularly the rights of gays and women and whether of not people should have access to basic physical needs including health care.

    I thought of an analogy where so-called liberalism is the Roman Empire and conservatism is the Dark Ages. Both are awful, but one at least has basic standards of civilization and a fairly high level of tolerance and is not brutally anti-intellectual.

  2. dogfightwithdogma says

    Are you sure the mailing was from the Democratic Party? I received an item in the mail several days ago that had the same information on it. It was from an organation named America Votes. I looked them up online. They appear to be a voting rights advocacy group.

  3. coragyps says

    It’s been quite a few years, Mano, but it was explained to me once that we couldn’t have Sunday voting here in the USA because we have separation of church and state.

    Yes, I just nodded too. And backed away.

  4. Heidi Nemeth says

    In the state of Ohio, you can buy “Voter Information” from the Secretary of State. It includes names, addresses, party affiliation, and voting record of all registered voters. What “Voter Information” does not include is any information on the candidates that might be useful to the voting public.

  5. says

    Given how frustrating the election system is in Washington State, I am always shocked at how things are so much worse elsewhere. Case in point: we have registered voters, not registered party members. That alone eliminates a whole bunch of crap.

  6. jws1 says

    Yeah I get all those folks that don’t wanna vote because they perceive absolutely no one represents their specific views on specific issues. No consider history: when, other than in the present and relatively recent past, have average working people had even this kind of power, to fire heads of state etc.? Serfs would’ve loved to be given the choice of a ” lesser of two evils.” Take advantage of what little power you have and exercise it! It’s the only way to increase said little power.

  7. MadHatter says

    I understand and share the frustration, but not voting also ensures that no one will come along that could possibly represent your views. If enough people do this the politician who wins does so more or less by default and then believes that their views really represent the voters and have no reason to moderate or modify themselves.

    At the least I think they need to know they aren’t universally liked and they’re on thin ice.

  8. says

    Take advantage of what little power you have and exercise it!

    Imagine you have power, now imagine you’re acting on it, then imagine it makes a difference enough that you can feel smug for exercising your imagined power. When you’re done with that, imagine yourself a whole democracy. It works!

  9. doublereed says

    Well voting is a somewhat Tragedy-of-the-Commons problem. Nobody’s vote really matters that much, but if large amounts of people don’t vote then that’s bad (like how it is now).

    Shame/pride/”civic duty” are pretty fundamental parts of the system, even if America wasn’t so disillusioned.

  10. alkaloid says

    I wanted to reiterate how much I appreciate that here isn’t like so many other places. That said, I also find myself wondering, when I look at the kind of results that happened this week and thinking back to reading liberal atheists say things like “Voting is not about self-esteem” or “There is no candidate against drone strikes on the ballot”, whether voting for the Democrats is not only a form of faith, but a particularly masochistic one considering that the best thing that you can possibly say about so many of them is that they are actively incompetent when it comes to bringing about the results that I think we would all like to see, and the worst is that they are actively malevolent.

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