Our view: Seasonal voters need not worry

Presidential and congressional campaigns are about to shift into high gear.

We know what to expect from office seekers. Expect plenty of mudslinging, although candidates contend they oppose it and the public claims it dislikes negative campaigning. There will be misleading sound bites, annoying telephone calls, a blur of advertising, superficial campaign stops and multiple appearances with the same speeches delivered to different audiences.

Nothing will change what politicians do. It is what voters tend not to do that is of concern and must be addressed.

During the presidential general election of 2008, U.S. eligible voter participation was at 62 percent. In Louisiana that number was slightly more than 61 percent – 16th lowest in the nation.

The general congressional election of 2010 saw voter participation drop closer to 41 percent nationally and 39 percent in Louisiana – eighth lowest of the United States.

Poor numbers and post-election activity prompts us to wonder what motivates voters.

The CATO Institute has found that the American electorate does not have the knowledge necessary to control public policy. A majority of participants do not know any details surrounding individuals and issues for which they cast ballots.

The system is supposed to work with an informed electorate fully involved to select responsible government. Evidence of irresponsible government indicates that the root of our problem is irresponsible voters.

Being informed begins with interest. This requires intentional responsibility to become part of the process.

Informed decisions involve researching candidates and issues, not simply listening to advertisements touting the candidate’s best claims or dredged up an opponent’s worst attributes.

Informed voters find reasons to support one candidate and not simply speak against another.

Examine the office involved. Learn what is required of that post. Then identify the people it represents and the issues that matter to constituents.

Discover why elections regarding representation and issues matter to the individual. Once that knowledge is established, getting to know the candidates for who they are becomes less of a chore.

Informed decisions are made based on issues and skills, rather than a candidate’s celebrity appeal. Let’s face it; Abraham Lincoln would not stand a chance of being elected 152 years after he was chosen to be president, because in today’s world he would not have the looks needed to generate popular attraction.

Select people are making decisions for others, prompting us to wonder if it might be better for uninformed individuals to stay away from the polls. Perhaps then we can avoid politics as usual.