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RedEye Reporter Says She Doesn't Care Enough To Vote

By Anthony Todd in News on Feb 9, 2016 9:12PM

Bill and Hillary Clinton (Getty Images)

Somehow (probably because I was too busy worrying about where you should make last-minute Valentine's Day reservations), I managed to go for an entire morning without being outraged at something on the Internet. Well thanks, RedEye—you broke my streak.

The venerable Tribune commuter publication printed a piece Tuesday by their transit reporter, Rianne Coale, that actually made me tear out pieces of my hair.

The title of the piece? "I've never voted: Here's why" Buckle your seat-belts, folks, because we're about to start on a (very flat) roller coaster ride of apathy.

Coale's essay describes her failure to vote in any election, of any kind, ever. The trouble started in 2012, when she was in college and, well, voting was hard.

I thought there would be hoops I’d have to jump through to register in Illinois, and with the stress of my studies and a full-time job, registering to vote in my home state, Michigan, seemed just as much of a hassle.

Luckily for the nation, democracy continued to function, as did Coale, who recently wrote a guide to everything you need to know about the upcoming elections. Now, with another election looming, will she vote? The answer is a resounding meh.

With the 2016 elections drawing closer each day, I can honestly say that I'm still on the fence about voting. Certainly working in a newsroom has helped me study up on the whole process, but I still don't feel the overwhelming drive to want to vote.

So there isn't really a reason for not voting, so much as some version of: it's tough/it's boring/i don't care that much/apathy.

This attitude makes me crazy for several reasons.

1) You should vote in every election because democracy.

I'm a bit of an odd duck on this front, but I really, really enjoy voting. I'm usually first in line at 6 in the morning at my polling place, I bring recommendations for which of the approximately six billion Cook County judges to vote for, and I relish every moment in the voting booth. Why? Because democracy is exciting. You literally get to decide who runs the show, from the smallest local office up to the person with their finger on the nuclear button. Lest anyone tell you your vote doesn't matter, how many aldermanic races come down to a few votes? How many votes decided the Iowa caucuses this year?

2) Even if you don't vote in every election out of protest, don't do it out of apathy.

I understand, though I disagree with, the idea of not voting because you don't like any of the choices available to you. In my mind, politics is about compromise, but if you feel morally problematic voting for a candidate, don't do it. But seriously, there's no one on the 15-page long Chicago ballot that you are enthusiastic about electing or enthusiastic about defeating? I love my local alderman so much I give him campaign donations, so even if I left the rest of the ballot blank, I'd get up just for that. Come up with a better reason for not voting than "It's hard and I don't really care that much."

3) How can you not be outraged in one direction or another right now?

According to Coale, she might not vote because the candidates aren't interesting. "Maybe it's because none of the candidates has really captured my attention or made me believe they'd make a decent president." Let's think about that for a second. If you're on the left, you should be genuinely terrified that Donald Trump (build a wall!) or Ted Cruz (good luck, women!) is going to be president. If you're on the right, you should be pretty worried about Bernie Sanders (socialism!) taking over the White House. If you're smack dab in the middle, you should be equally worried about either of these choices and want to vote for one of the slightly more moderate candidates—at least until they are all knocked out by the primary process.

In this election cycle, if no candidate has "captured your attention," it must be because your eyes are taped shut.

4) I lived through the election of 2000.

I was a cynical college freshman in 2000, and it was my first election. And lots and lots and lots of my friends felt like Coale and decided not to vote, largely because there was supposedly "no difference" between the two major party candidates, Al Gore and George W. Bush.

So yeah. How did that work out?

5) If you report on a government agency for a living, how can you not care enough to vote?

I don't really have much to add to this one.

I could continue, but instead, let's let Twitter take it from here.

By the way, the RedEye also published a counterpoint called "Why I never miss a chance to vote." OK. We could almost give a pass to whomever decided these essays were a good idea to run—except Coale gives no reason why she doesn't vote, so there's nothing to even counter. And the "counter-point" pretty much lets everyone off the hook at the end, which we just can't endorse: "But if you'd rather not vote, I’m not going to judge. I imagine that nonvoters must look at this whole system and feel powerless, and uninformed voters probably feel overwhelmed."

Nope. Feel free to judge. And get out and vote!