Editorial: Know your vote

Are voters proactively helping the community by exercising their right to vote with little to no knowledge of what they’re voting for?

Voting is the most powerful vehicle an American citizen has in expressing their voice. So why is there a lack of information available to those willing to step up to the plate?

Vote in what you believe will justifiably promote the common good, or otherwise abstain. If you don’t know what you are voting for how can you make this decision? The importance of being informed before elections is fundamental.

In the upcoming midterm elections, taking place Nov. 4, it has always been maintained that it is the public’s civic duty to vote. It is our right as citizens to speak up and be heard. We should do so well informed.

Unfortunately, people support their party blindly without knowing what they may be voting for. Voters need to know who and what they are electing and why. However, the more that voters are encouraged to participate in elections, the less politically informed individuals we may see. As a result lowers the quality of the entire designation process.

If you are voting simply as an act of self-gratification you should take time to consider the impact you could be making. Not being informed can cause more harm than good if you don’t know what you are supporting. For example, you could unknowingly support a proposition that encourages homophobic or sexist legislation or negatively impacts everyone’s standard of living, in turn not knowing if you’re making people’s lives better or worse. Using your vote ignorantly is throwing away your chance to contribute.

From democracy’s beginning, Aristotle maintained how essential it is for a citizen to be able to discern real interests and to take effective advantage of the responsibility afforded to them. The father of philosophy upheld his stand against democracy by saying,

“What are the matters over which the general body of citizens should properly exercise sovereignty? It… is dangerous for men of this sort to share in the highest offices, as injustice may lead them into wrong doing, and thoughtlessness into error.”

This principle sustains that by being ignorant of the propositions you can cause negative repercussions to the community. Rather than always supporting a party, your decision should be your own, and not influenced by others, or because in the past you have advocated for the same organization, unknowingly awarding the political party in question insurmountable power?

In hindsight people are actually showing up to vote, which is half the battle. The other half is getting them there up-to date. Additionally, it is important to take into consideration that people are exposed to propaganda, such as TV commercials, that use pathos and target their audience emotionally to control and influence votes.

These commercials can be misleading and as a result people go to vote with good intentions but insufficient evidence to endorse their belief in a cause. What Skyline can do to be a catalyst in enlightening all students on elections is hold forums that encourage students to debate and express their opinions regarding the issues at hand.

Students at Skyline are already taking the initiative to educate themselves and can employ skills such as critical thinking, but it is worth mentioning that electoral information is not easily obtained and the outreach available to educate people, more often than not, consists of complicated jargon.

It is a widely spread notion that one vote is of no consequence, and in truth if we continue with this mentality less people will be inclined to participate, when in truth we should be encouraging this civic engagement among our peers with the goal of promoting common good. However, given that the issues addressed in these midterm elections are far more localized and your electoral decision does matter.

Know what propositions are necessary to taking elections seriously. It’s like going to a test without studying, just staring at the paper. If you’re not informed then you are basically giving up your civic right; therefore, declaring that although the passing of the Voting rights Act of 1965 allowed more people to vote despite their racial of ethnic background, the toil for political participation is still far from over. What is important to understand is that voting is a privilege; however, being informed is our obligation.