Tuesday, November 08, 2011

How I Vote

In the last election, every single candidate I voted for lost. The preliminary results from Virginia's state elections today show me running about 50/50. I suppose that's what happens when you move to a swing state. My poor showing in the last round, however, could have been a result of my voting technique--how I deal with imperfect information about candidates and issues.

So here's my voting algorithm:

If I know the candidates, I'll vote for my preferred candidate.

If I know the party, I'll vote for my preferred party.

If I don't know the candidate or the party, I'll vote against the incumbent (Wisconsin was very helpful in this regard. They listed "Incumbent" next to the name on the ballot.)

If I don't know the candidate or the party or who is the incumbent, I'll leave it blank. Better not to vote than to pick a random name and cancel the vote of someone who actually cares about the issue and the candidate.

If someone is running unopposed, I'll leave it blank for two reasons. First, if someone is running a write-in campaign that I don't know about, checking a box just because I'm ill-informed doesn't help anyone. Second, I dislike "mandates." The politician in question will take the result in the poll as validation of their policies. I don't want to validate a program I haven't bothered to learn about.

Of course, the voting machines I was using today were terribly angry at me for leaving slots on the ballot blank. "You have not voted in every race. Are you sure you want to submit your ballot?" "Are you really sure?" "Are you really, really sure?" "Are you really, truly, positutely sure?"

And that's how I justify my own apathy and ignorance.


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