The right not to vote considered

Only about 50 percent of the “eligible” (not to be confused with “registered”) voters in Minnesota bothered to go to the polls on Tuesday, and Wednesday featured the usual amount of “tsk tsk’ing” from people who did.

Is it bad that half the people didn’t bother to vote, especially when Minnesota made it easier this year to cast a ballot? You have the right to vote, of course. And you have the right not to vote. But, like several other rights, not voting is a right that can get you condemned for exercising.

Take Jon Stewart, for example.

That comment earned Stewart a boatload of criticism, which caused him to apologize on his show last night.

Stewart’s situation is a little different. He’s an influential person.

But what about the people who influence nobody and quietly go about their business of being disengaged by choice?

In a perfect world, 100 percent voting seems like a good idea. But this isn’t a perfect world and to some extent, it’s not a very knowledgeable one.

Consider the survey I wrote about on Constitution Day that showed nearly one-third of those surveyed can’t name a single branch of government. Not one.

I’m guessing that if you can’t name a single branch of government, you’re probably not informed enough to even know how to vote, let alone have the capacity to cast an informed vote.

So let’s assume that the 50 percent of Minnesotans not voting were either among the third who don’t know how government works, or were in the two-thirds who couldn’t name all three branches of government.

Discussion point: What does Minnesota lose by not having these people influence the future of the state?