View Full Version : How much effort do you put into researching your votes?
11-06-2007, 12:54 PM
At least in the Seattle area, this November's ballot has a few complicated ballot initiatives that don't lend themselves (for several people I've talked to, at least) to easy decision making. I won't get into specifics, because I don't want to debate particular issues.
But a conversation with a coworker got me thinking: how much time is worth investing in a particular ballot issue?
Assuming there's no clear-cut reason to vote one way or the other -- none of your pet causes are being promoted or threatened, none of your ideals are being obviously upheld or violated -- how much effort will you spend deciding how to vote?
For me, it's about 15 minutes. If you factor in my above-average awareness of local political issues, it's probably more than that, but when it comes down to actually casting a vote, I don't feel like it's worth much more of my time. If I can't figure out how I feel about an issue in that period of time, I'll generally just abstain. (I vote, just not on that particular issue or in that race.)
My coworker -- and my wife, for that matter -- will spend a lot longer on a given issue, seeking out lots and lots of info before making up her mind. An hour or more, sometimes.
What about you?
11-06-2007, 01:21 PM
During the last election, I devoted probably three or four hours to reading the voter guide in detail and then doing some online research on issues about which I still had questions. I intend to do the same during the next elections. And for the record, I'm talking about ballot measures here, not candidates.
A friend of mine has suggested, on multiple occasions, gathering a group of trusted friends so that each of us could be assigned to research a measure or measures thoroughly. The plan would be to then meet and have each person talk about the issue(s) he or she had researched (both sides of it, of course), and then have group discussions on each.
This, to me, sounds like a fun way to handle a topic I take seriously, but since I haven't done it this way yet, I can't really comment beyond liking the idea.
11-06-2007, 02:09 PM
Good idea. I think consulting trusted editorial boards, etc., is a variation on that that can work.
Just to clarify: my 15 minutes is per vote, not for my entire ballot. I'm not quite that shallow.
11-06-2007, 02:36 PM
Today? I'm voting around 6ish, so definitely under 6 hours for the whole ballot.
I'm generally aware of local politics. I read (or at least skim) the voter guide when it arrives. I read (or at least skim) the endorsements. I tend to know who I tend to agree with ("Jane Smith thinks X is a good idea, so it probably has some merit" or "The _____ Group tends toward soul destroying evil, , and if they're for Ref 12345, I'm probably against it."). And so, by today, I have a general idea of where I think I'm going with most of the measures.
But one (this time around). That one, I'm going to actually look at a bit more before I go fill in the bubbles.
Edited to add: This may change once we go to all absentee - then, I'll probably be more deliberate in deciding and fill it out over time.
11-06-2007, 02:51 PM
On average, I spend at least an hour on each of the initiatives and their ilk (including reading the actual text of the proposed laws*), somewhat less on the candidates.
This year, I spent quite a bit more than that on some questions, because it's a complicated ballot without easy answers (http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=418929). Referendum 67, for example, asks us to choose between lawyers and insurance companies, which (as I said elsewhere) is like asking me to express a preference for either having weasels or Gila monsters chew off my ball sack.
It just seems to get more and more complicated every year...
*This was how I knew Tim Eyman was a jackass days into his very first initiative campaign, the one about the automotive license fees. A co-worker came to me with a petition and said, "How'd you like to pay $30 to renew your car tabs?" I said, let me see, and turned the petition over to the actual law. Within a couple of paragraphs, it was obvious this was a stealth initiative, using a catchy hook to promote a more complicated agenda. "Hey," I said, "this is about much more than $30 tabs. Did you actually read this?" She said no, and looked where I indicated, to the language following the camoflage opener that in paragraph after paragraph totally reworked the way tax law would be administered in the state. "Sorry," I said, "I can't sign something that insults my intelligence and tries to sneak something past me." She took her petition and slunk away, red-faced.
I don't have hero moments I can be proud about very often, but I take great joy in being way ahead of the curve on that one.
11-06-2007, 03:59 PM
For Seattle and Washington state politics, I vote the way The Stranger (http://www.thestranger.com) tells me to.
:) OK, maybe not 100%, but over the years I've found I generally agree with their positions, so after reading the voter's pamphlet I check my opinions against theirs; if we differ, I may not change my vote but I'll certainly reconsider.
*This was how I knew Tim Eyman was a jackass days into his very first initiative campaignNowadays, of course, the name "Tim Eyman" is a sure indicator that one needs read no further. A simple "Hell no" will suffice.
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