Nov 042002
Authors: Sarah Laribee

If you have only 10 minutes to do something non-scholastic today, put the paper down and go vote instead. You can figure out where you’re registered at If you have 20 minutes, then pony up. Read this column and then go vote.

A friend of mine and I have a little running joke going. We enjoy making up our own ridiculous campaign ads. We find that they end up being almost plausibly broadcastable. Case in point:

(Ominous music in the background)

Narrator: “Wayne Allard claims that he has the leadership qualities needed for good Senate leadership. But 30 years ago, Wayne Allard was a Junior Higher. That’s right. A snotty-nosed, pre-pubescent little eighth grader. Colorado, if he was immature then, what makes you think he can lead now?

“Call Wayne Allard, and tell him Colorado doesn’t need any former Jr. Highers who didn’t yet wear deodorant in our Senate.”

My friend and I are voters. He sent in an absentee ballot a few weeks ago, and I will show up at First Presbyterian Church this afternoon to cast my vote and get that super-keen “I Voted” sticker. And even though we are voters, there is something behind our fabricated campaign ads that speaks a little bit to the general feelings about the political process. We tend to not take it seriously.

Our age demographic is known famously for its lack of interest in the political process as a whole. A quick, non-scientific pole of an 11th grade English class I was in front of last week revealed that 100 percent of them would vote if they were old enough in this mid-term election. But statistically, only about 30 percent of them will once they hit their 18th birthday.

Excuses for voter apathy among 18-30 year olds are generally cleaned up to seem almost noble. Jack Doppelt, a journalism professor at Northwestern University, and the author of “Nonvoters,” a book study on voter apathy, wrote: “The chief reason that young voters give for not voting is that they think nobody is listening to them.”

That makes it seem like a lot of us don’t vote because we are not going to waste a half hour of our time if it yields no fruitful results. Like the restraints on our time are that hugely weighing. Watch “Will and Grace” lately? Do the daily hours of time that most of us seem to fritter away doing ridiculous things, despite the fact that most of us really are hugely busy, really amount to anything?

Voting is the flossing of civic duty. We all know we should do it, and we all vow to do it “a lot more now.” But dentist appointments sneak up on us, and pretty soon it’s the day before the appointment and we’re flossing like crazy people in hopes that the dentist won’t notice. For a lot of you who are not registered, today will pass just like any other because you can’t vote at this point. It’s just too late.

For those of you who are registered, and who will let this day pass like any other, consider your motives. If you’re not voting because your vote wont matter, you are, in a way, right. Every vote counts of course. But statistically, the weight of single votes don’t make huge ripples in general or midterm elections. Unless you live in Florida. But you should vote not only to make a difference. You should vote to get into the habit of voting. Like making your bed or flossing. It’s what grownups do.

If you’re not voting because your voice won’t be heard, you’re kind of right about that too. After all, it is one single vote. But your voice sure as heck won’t be heard if all you do in regards to the political process is complain about it in poli-sci courses.

But if, as it turns out, your motives are a little more visceral, if you just don’t care, then be honest about that. Admit it to yourself that your god is your stomach and that you’ll let other people make all the decisions. Because you’re right. The path of least resistance is always easier.

You’ve still got 10 minutes.

Sarah Laribee is an English Education major.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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