We are just a few weeks away from another presidential election. Yard signs are out, the debates are in full swing and networks claim all but a few citizens have decided who will get their vote.
I have not decided, and it is looking fairly unlikely that either candidate will convince me of their merit before Nov. 6.
Some people call elections a decision between the lesser of two evils.
This cliché is a cynical view of the political system. In reality, both candidates have some exceptionally strong points and other ridiculously inconceivable ideas. My problem isn’t necessarily which one will be least bad (although on some issues, that is all we can hope for). I’m just not sure which of the issues I consider to be most important, and therefore lead me to the right candidate. President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney each present carefully crafted plans meant to represent the best solutions for social problems.
It leads me to ask, how do so many people have their minds made up already? How do so many voters know for sure which candidate will represent the country’s needs best?
Some in the voting public seem to be making their decision based on party alliance or a single issue.
It is much more complicated than that. We vote for an entire candidate, not just a single issue. Choosing means getting what you want on some issues and begrudgingly dealing with others. Sometimes Election Day arrives and voters haven’t come to terms with what they are willing to sacrifice. Instead of voting and regretting it later, it may be better to abstain.
Many advocates have a problem with nonvoters.
Much time and effort is put forth into getting citizens to the polls on voting day.
Voter mobilization is important for people who know whom they will vote for.
There is a separate population, however, entirely made of people who cannot say with certainty who is the best candidate.
Should these people be mobilized, only to arrive at the polling place still without a sure choice of candidates? It doesn’t seem as if voter mobilization is the root of the turnout problem.
I used to feel guilty when I considered abstaining from voting on Election Day.
Voting is a privilege many people in other countries do not have. Voting is supposed to be our duty to maintain America’s republic. Voting is an activity where, if you abstain, you have no right to complain about election outcomes or subsequent decisions.
There are many good reasons to vote. We learned most of them in junior high civics classes.
There are also reasons to not vote in this country. Campaigns that try to mobilize voters don’t address the complexity. They make it seem straightforward, as if nonvoters are not voting out of laziness or ignorance.
If I decide not to vote in the presidential election Nov. 6, it isn’t because I don’t feel like it or don’t have the time. It is because I haven’t been convinced of which candidate can deal with the problems I think are most important.
It means I haven’t decided which issues I can sacrifice ideologically in order to choose a candidate.
It means that, unfortunately, both Romney and Obama already failed at an important task: Convince an undecided voter.
• Lauren Stott is a Maple Park native and a graduate student at Northern Illinois University in the master of public administration program. She can be reached at email@example.com.