Column: Uneducated Voters Have Disturbing Effect On Elections

This story was written by Isaac Mohr, Arizona Daily Wildcat
With the election results looming over the majority of Americans' heads, the anticipation for the outcomes is mounting. For all of those who committed to candidates and propositions, the hopes are high for success. Yet it isn't very hard to become discouraged when you speak with fellow students about their choices and commitments in the elections.

It seems that present-day elections are no longer about the candidate or proposition with the most appealing content, but rather the candidate or proposition with the best-edited commercial, the brightest colors or the most memorable slogan. In essence, ignorance and superficiality have taken a stronghold on our voting system. People, more than ever before, are voting without knowing what they're voting for.

For young voters, especially students, extensive research on such things as economic plans and propositions isn't always practical. Between midterms, the constant bombardment of work and homework and the much more appealing idea of Halloween, most students are more apt to spend their time thinking about costumes and studying than who they believe is best fit to run the country. The problem is that many people take their lack of knowledge to the polls, casting their votes out of pure ignorance.

When I asked a fellow student how he had voted on a few of the current propositions, he recited to me his "yes" and "no" votes with a great deal of passion. But when I asked him to explain what a few of the propositions meant, I was surprised to find out he didn't know. It was all the more frustrating when he followed his admission of ignorance with the explanation that he had only voted that way because a friend told him to. In another such instance, a close family member I talked to recently also expressed a great deal of passion about their choice of candidate. When I attempted to say anything in support of the other party, they retorted, reciting verbatim a commercial I had seen in favor of their candidate choice.

Yet the truly troubling factor was the fact that the points they were making had been addressed and discredited in at least one of the three televised presidential debates. It brought to mind two possible explanations: The person had most likely not watched any of the debates, or, likewise, probably hadn't even looked into as much as a commercial for the candidate. In either of the two situations, they hadn't displayed anything even resembling convincing or credible arguments for their decisions.

In both of the aforementioned situations there is a common theme. Americans, nowadays, are beginning to drift away from being informed voters. For me, it is very scary to think people are voting on issues and candidates based on arbitrary criticisms or hearsay.

Individuality is crucial in situations like elections. Consider this: If every fourth person you meet votes the same as one of their friends or bases their vote on one catchy commercial or slogan, and that is a constant throughout the university, then a fourth of the university is essentially voting blind. This means that roughly 9,000 students are voting for things they may not understand. Now take that percentage and transfer it to the United States. If only one-third of the country votes, that's more than 100 million people. And if a quarter of them vote blindly, that means more than 25 million people are voting blindly. Twenty-five million votes could swing an election, which means that people who might not even know more than his name could decide our president.

With ideas such as this one present and even probable, it's hard to keep a considerable hope for a better future when it seems that for every educated voter there is an ignorant one to counter his or her vote.
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