I’m Ignorant as Hell, and I’m Not Gonna Take It Anymore!

I just got back from voting here in Champaign, IL District 10. Although I feel it’s important to vote, I found the process a little bit depressing.

The actual process of voting went well for the most part. I had a little bit of trouble finding the right room in the elementary school, so I asked the first person I saw with an “I voted” sticker which direction I needed to go. I passed two people on the way out who were having the same trouble I did, so you can’t pin it entirely on my dense head. The poll workers were friendly, all either under twenty or over sixty years old. The only bit that bothered me a little was that the kid manning the scanning machine could see my ballot. But, at least it was an actual, physical ballot and not some dodgy touch-screen voting machine swapping my votes around.

What really bothered me as I was voting was that despite the amount of time and energy I spent trying to learn about the candidates, I knew next to nothing about over half of the races I was expected to vote on. Who are these judges that I’m supposed to approve? Who are all these uncontested candidates? Who are any of these people running for the most local positions? I found little, if any, information about any of them by reading the local paper online, and most of them didn’t have any sort of web site. The fact that I get all of my information from the internet may be part of the problem. But, if the online content of the News-Gazette is any indicator, local print media wouldn’t have been any help for these lower profile races either.

It’s totally unacceptable that this information is essentially unavailable. It’s great the people are working to “get out the vote,” but why isn’t anyone working to collect the most basic information about what these people are supposed to vote on? It’s great that the News-Gazette is reporting about these vote-getter-outers, but why aren’t they actually reporting on what we’re supposed to vote on?

Bitching about it gets me nowhere, though. So, in 2008, when I’m getting ready to vote in whatever district I end up, I’m going to make sure I know something about everything on the ballot. And I’m going to share what I’ve found out. If Campaigns Wikia is still around, that’ll be a good place to start. Between actually collecting the information and doing a little publicity, I expect that I could easily do this in my spare time. The amount of effort is so low, and the ROI is so high, there’s no excuse not to do it.