An absentee ballot featuring voting options for the US presidential election, including Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. SAUL LOEB AFP/Getty Images
An absentee ballot featuring voting options for the US presidential election, including Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. SAUL LOEB AFP/Getty Images

Mark Washburn

You can skip the voting and the guilt trip

October 28, 2016 04:11 PM

I know you’re overwhelmed right now with people nagging you to get out and vote like the foundation of human civilization is at stake, so my advice will seem a bit jolting:

Don’t vote.

You are lucky to live in one of the great countries of the world where you have the absolute privilege to exercise your right to blow off Election Day.

Perfectly legal, quite normal.

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Even in presidential election years, about 40 percent of the nation’s registered voters give the whole thing a pass.

They have their reasons. Maybe they don’t have an opinion, maybe they don’t care, maybe there’s a Kardashian TV marathon.

Whatever it is, they’re doing the right thing. They should be applauded, given little stickers that say “I passed.”

Voting, like driving an airplane or frying a Twinkie, takes some reasoned effort. It’s not a carnival game. It’s serious business.

To do it right, you have to pay attention to current events. You have to develop some knowledge of issues. You have to study what’s on the ballot. You have to judge. Then, you have to wait in line.

Some people study the recommendations of the local paper as a guide (and many, familiar with the mentality of the local paper, write down the list just to vote against them). Some examine the neutral profiles of key candidates.

Some just show up and commit a VWI – voting while uninformed.

Most people find it easy to form an opinion about the presidential race. Many strut to the polls to execute their choice.

Problem is, once they get to the ballot, they are presented with choices in a dozen or more other races. Names of potential governors, congressional reps, senators, state lawmakers and many more are all squeaking “Pick Me!”

It’s a multiple-choice quiz with no wrong answers but with profound results. Guessing is not the solution.

You can use political commercials on TV as a guide if you’re an absolute dolt highly susceptible to nefarious manipulation. Kindly people spend enormous fortunes to enable you in this time-saving folly.

Name recognition is not reliable. “I think I’ll choose Smith – I remember that name.” Yeah, you might be remembering it from people complaining that Smith is a coward and a crud.

Or you can vote the party line. But each party has its share of Smiths, and the lower on the ballot you go, the fewer candidates come with a party affiliation.

So when you find yourself in this situation, rely on me. Take my advice. Don’t vote.

If you don’t know who would make a better attorney general, auditor, agriculture secretary or soil district commissioner, leave it to those who think they do. Leave it to those who studied for the exam.

And feel no guilt. Whatever you’ve contributed is enough.

By doing nothing, you’ve made an excellent choice.

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007, @WashburnChObs