When I was a political science major in college, I was rapid about voting. I told everyone to vote. I was an election judge. I was passionate about this civic responsibility and I thought everyone else should be, too.
Fast forward ten years, and I am still passionate about voting. Sort of. But I can understand the apathy besetting so many of our young people and our populace in general. Part of this apathy stems from the sense that politics are so inbred and corrupt that there is no way to make a positive change. Voting has become choosing between a lesser of two evils instead of choosing the candidate who will best guide our country.
More than that, though, is that the whole election system seems geared against making wanting people to vote. Beyond the mud-slinging is the fact that it is truly hard to get any information about the candidates. The local newspaper of my hometown regularly publishes information about the candidates for local, state, and national levels in a nice, easy-to-read format. Not so where I am living now. It is difficult to find out even who is running and what they're running for (thank goodness for those obnoxious lawn signs!). I've done several google searches on candidates' stances on the issues, and have learned that if one is an incumbent they feel that their web site doesn't need to share their stance. They're incumbent. They're shoe-ins.
Finding out the polling place has proven even harder. I Googled several search terms and was finally given a map that was divided according to district. This would have been helpful...if I knew what district I was in. The local newspaper had one article archived on polling places, which merely listed the phone numbers for the election boards. At least that was something. When I called, I learned that in order to vote in the proper precinct I have to inform the election board each time I move within my district--even if it's just across the street. Now it never occured to me that I had to inform a specifically-election oriented entity that I had moved. (Call me naive). Nowhere did I learn that. This was an important piece of information that was not given to me in each of the civic classes and poli-sci courses I took.
What I am saying is that people who take voting seriously are discouraged from taking it seriously by myriad factors: media, unwritten (or assumed) rules, candidates who don't care to inform voters about the issues, or who run on just one issue and assume we'll figure out the rest. And each year I have to work harder and harder to care about a vote that I feel is less and less important. This is not the way it should be. And that is why I will be voting November 7, 2006. I hope you will, too.