You Are Voting In The Next Seven Days

I saw this quote on State Rep. Bob Hagan’s Facebook wall this morning:

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.


Maybe you’ve been asked by a spouse or a daughter or a friend, Who are you voting for?

Maybe you’ve even heard, I don’t like anyone!

But inside you know you can’t *not vote.* I know I can’t not vote.

And some people will argue that not voting is still a participatory choice, while on the other end of the spectrum:

Can’t one blue state, just one of them, try compulsory voting by initiative and see if it sets off a constitutional chain reaction? After all, the states are supposed to be “laboratories for experiment.” That’s why we have 50.

Plato would love that debate.

But this is Ohio, where third parties and casting ballots with some sense of integrity to one’s principles aren’t very welcomed by our state’s electoral system. For comparison, check out what New York’s primary ballot looked like this year:

New York primary ballot, 2014For example: down the left side? Those are all the different parties for which you can vote. The candidates listed in the horizontal line for each party is the slate that party has selected for you to select. So you can choose incumbent Gov. Cuomo, but you don’t have to vote as a Democrat. You can vote as the Working Families Party.

So what’s the message? How do you convince people to vote?

Of course, we have to make them care, and that comes from a personal appeal. This can be in person, by phone or by postcard – a common tool of the grassroots campaigns.

What can you say? You can commiserate, for starters. It’s pretty easy this year. I’m not loving some of my choices and I’ve been honest about that. But having a candidate you love – has that ever been a realistic expectation for each and every electoral choice we have to make? Of course not. But not loving a political candidate is no excuse for not exercising your right to vote.

So then what? For me, thinking about the alternatives and the consequences of the alternatives winning or losing is where I go. In many races, you can look at the candidates’ position and past record on issues that matter to you – education, minimum wage, job creation, anti-discrimination, renewable energy, caretaking our natural resources assets, reproductive rights, infrastructure investment – and realize that you know with great clarity how a candidate treats those issues. I’ll throw in my two must-haves that aren’t yet standard-enough benchmarks by which we measure candidates but we’re working on it: transparency, openness and use of civic engagement.

I don’t think anyone seeks to be a one-issue voter, but if you know you don’t want someone in office who you know, before casting your vote, is going to make decisions opposite to what you value, then knowing who to vote for becomes clear too. Are you always going to like that answer? No. But we have who we have in front of us, and if we don’t vote, and we end up with the person we know won’t be supporting what we value, when we had a chance to speak with our vote, we only make it harder for ourselves and others as time goes on.

In my experience, this angle is very successful. It highlights how our vote matters, even as a block against another candidate who might otherwise want to claim a mandate. This claiming of a mandate is no small matter given how it can get wielded to supersede what a more democratic (with a little “d”) approach might pursue, and for purposes that go beyond anything the now-elected person, while candidate, might have ever mentioned when they were supposedly working to earn our vote. (There’s a lot of excellent writing on the topic of mandates but leave it to Minnesota to produce one that nails it in, “When does a politician have a mandate from the voters?.”)

In Ohio, Governor Kasich has been asked about his re-election intentions regarding Right-to-Work, making Medicaid expansion permanent, the Common Core, support for Lake Erie and stunting the growth industry of renewable energy precisely because of a concern about how he might take an electoral win of any size and use it to say, “Well, that was the people’s will (aka mandate) when they elected me.”

And I promise you, if you do not vote at all, you will contribute to another candidate’s win or attempt to claim a mandate. If you do not want that result, then you – and everyone you know – needs to vote. Up and down the ticket (more about down the ticket in a subsequent post).

Now if all that is way too complicated and long, there’s always the “our jerk is better than your jerk” rationale. I didn’t come up with it, but for some folks, I understand it works. As long as you get to the polls and vote, I’ll take it.

6 thoughts on “You Are Voting In The Next Seven Days


  2. Thanks for sharing that information. In the county executive race, I’m not sure I understand your reasoning. Vote totals are counted no matter what and analyzed to determine undervote and so on. But fewer votes from a Dem county exec than for up ticket statewides will only look like a drop off, I think. Can you say more about the strategy as it has to do with what you mention re: counting votes?

    • Good morning Jill,

      In the County Executive race I expect the ODP leadership to go through the votes precinct by precinct and count the under-votes. I expect Budish will win, but not by the margin, in the most Democratic county in Ohio, that the party would like. There will be many reasons for under-votes, but if we are to believe, as I do, that every vote counts, then the party will at least have to consider individuals such as myself who generally vote for, and support, the party’s candidates, but chose to pass on Budish and send the message that he is a less than acceptable candidate for the office.

      Do all you can to make today a good day,


      • For sure, that will be one category of explanation for the undervote, but parceling out which proportion of the undervote should go into which category of explanation for the undervote – I had to do that. It’s pure guessing. I guess we will have to wait for the final, certified numbers later in November to see if there will be enough of a pattern to any one category of explanation to give it enough weight that it would affect future choices related to candidates. Also, you may recall, Ed FitzGerald had many challengers – I think in addition to Matt Dolan, there were four others, right? So determining what an undervote means, where it came from and what to do differently in the future…definitely not science.

  3. Good morning Jill,

    I’m glad to see that you’ve been able to reopen comments because conversation is the foundation of any community.

    I voted the day mail-in ballots became available.

    I made two protests votes in the hope that maybe, just maybe, the Ohio Democratic Party leadership will figure out that running the same old worthless candidates is the reason a part of their base has gone away.

    The Green Party candidates for governor, Anita Rios; and lieutenant governor, Bob Fitrakis, got my votes in that race because there simply isn’t a clothespin big enough to get me past the stench of voting for Ed FitzGerald.

    In Cuyahoga County I didn’t cast a vote for County Executive because I know the ODP will carefully count the votes and see that some voters supported other Democrats–I voted for both Nina Turner (Secretary of State) and Connie Pillich for Treasurer, for instance–but passed on Armond Budish based mostly on several conversations at B’nai Jeshurun several years ago.

    Do all you can to make today a better day,


    p.s. my comment login was still good, so i didn’t have to re-enter my data.

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