For all the appropriate chatter about intrusions into privacy, for all the legitimate scandals being derailed by school districts citing privacy and personnel law, a story today stands out: Why is it anyone’s business whether you voted?
The Star Tribune reports that a Republican candidate for Senate doesn’t vote in the state’s primary elections. Neither do most Minnesotans, but these sorts of factoids seem to suggest that someone is less of an American for not voting. That’s debatable. We have a right to vote, but we have no legal obligation to do so and, arguably, not voting for the only options you have can be considered a vote, too. And quite often, there are no choices for the important races.
Says the Strib…
A check of state records shows that McFadden’s GOP opponents — state Sen. Julianne Ortman, Rep. Jim Abeler and St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg — are all faithful primary and general election voters. Franken, too, has been steady since he registered to vote in Minnesota in 2006, voting in every general and primary election since then, according to voter records.
The Minnesota GOP primary hasn’t really been heavily contested — and thus in many voters’ minds, important — since 1936. Until this year.
Eric Ostermeier, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota and author of the Smart Politics blog, said the margins in primary elections going back to the 1930s were complete blowouts and swung upward of 60 points. This wasn’t for lack of competition. In all but two of those cycles, there were always at least a couple of names on the ballot. It’s just that the mainstream, heavily favored candidate always handily beat out the one or two fringe candidates, said Ostermeier, a student of Minnesota political history.
Even so, why should anyone be able to track what I — or you — are doing anytime, especially in a state that has so many data privacy laws?
The mere fact of being documented as voting provides an avenue for determining other information about you — your political affiliation being the most obvious.