FLAMES OF THE TORCH

On Tues., Nov. 2, 2010, people across the country walked into polling places to cast their votes in the crucial midterm elections. Many of them had spent weeks, if not months, researching, campaigning for and observing their candidates of interest. However, some voters went to the polls and voted using somewhat less discretion.

In this country, we have Democrats, Republicans, and third-parties that are more than welcome in the polling place. What should not be welcomed, however, is being an uninformed voter.

Going into a voting booth and casting a ballot for a candidate you know nothing or little about should not be an option. In an age where information is at everyone’s finger-tips, being uninformed is simply inexcusable.

While we understand that voting is considered a democratic right inherent to all Americans, it is not something that should be taken lightly. Those who vote only because it is their right sometimes vote for the most widely known – be it positively or negatively – candidate, or for someone running on a seemingly outrageous

or provocative platform.

 We at the TORCH have experienced this phenomenon. Several of our acquaintances, including past editors and associates, found themselves voting for the sake of voting. They picked candidates just to cast a ballot and to click the new “I Voted” button on Facebook.

  Voting is quickly becoming a “me too” activity more than a meaningful political action. Groups like Rock the Vote have persuaded people to go to the polls, but have been somewhat unsuccessful in convincing them to learn about the issues and candidates on their own prior to voting. It is strange seeing celebrities get people into voting booths only to make decisions they are completely uninformed about.

As previously mentioned, on Tuesday Facebook ran a tally of users who claimed to have voted. Throughout the day people updated their statuses and won stickers marking that they had

visited a polling site.

 We at the TORCH feel that voting should be about more than bragging rights or keeping up with the Joneses. It should be about representing yourself and ensuring that your voice is heard. Voting in one direction or another can drastically change the direction that your neighborhood, state or your country moves in.

  This may seem like an overstatement. Many people feel that their one singular vote cannot possibly make a difference. They fall victim to the logic that the single voter is no longer relevant in American politics. However, if these voters are informed and truly know what their vote means, they will find that they make all the difference.

 Individuals should not fear being forgotten in the masses. It is better to try and be a part of the solution than to mindlessly be a part of the problem. This is why uninformed voting is hazardous to the health of American politics. It encourages citizens to sit back and hope for the best, without taking action. If the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, than isn’t a vote worth at least ten minutes of your time?

 We believe that this Tuesday’s Election Day should be a wake-up call to voters across America. Simply going to the polls is no longer the issue. Knowing why you vote is as important as knowing what to do with your vote. The system will only work if Americans give their votes the

respect they deserve.