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Burt Prelutsky / Oct. 18, 2010

Thank You for Not Voting

For as long as I can remember, people have been cajoled, harangued and even bullied, into voting. They’ve been reminded incessantly that their ancestors fought and died so that they would have the right to choose their leaders. It’s been pointed out to them that even today there are hundreds of millions of people to whom universal suffrage is nothing more than a fantasy.

For as long as I can remember, people have been cajoled, harangued and even bullied, into voting. They’ve been reminded incessantly that their ancestors fought and died so that they would have the right to choose their leaders. It’s been pointed out to them that even today there are hundreds of millions of people to whom universal suffrage is nothing more than a fantasy.

All of which is true, but so what?

The beauty of our system isn’t that we have the right to vote. After all, Russians got to vote for Joseph Stalin and Iraqis got to vote for Saddam Hussein. No, the nice thing is that people who are too dumb or lazy or uninformed to bother casting a ballot aren’t compelled to vote. And no apologies are required. In fact, in my opinion, thanks are in order. Far too many people are voting, as it is.

I liken our elections to major sporting events such as the World Series and the Super Bowl. It’s a fact that millions of Americans who have no particular interest in baseball or football get caught up in the hype, and, come October and January, park their fannies in front of their TVs.

There’s nothing wrong with this, you understand. There’s no reason on earth why people who can’t fathom the infield fly rule or tell you how many points a safety is worth shouldn’t get caught up in the fervor and maybe even risk five bucks in the office pool. But you sure wouldn’t leave it up to them to select the All Star team or pick the league MVPs.

So why on earth would you urge citizens who have done their level best to avoid thinking about the issues or the candidates to suddenly roll off the couch on election day and do their civic duty?

Before the last election, some busybody suggested that, as an incentive to stir up the electorate, there should be a special lottery open to anyone who bothered to vote. I have no problem with the idea of a lottery, but, frankly, I think it should be limited to those people who, by remaining steadfast in the face of relentless peer and media pressure, did the honorable thing…and stayed home!

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