With New Zealand elections right around the corner, I see a big push from our government to get as many people voting as possible. The political parties are looking to grab as many votes as they can to attain more power and influence. But in terms of our democracy, should we be encouraging everyone to vote? Can you think of a group of people who you wouldn’t want to vote and who should be discouraged from voting? I know I can. I know this because I was one of those people who should have been discouraged from voting.
For the last two elections I can admit that when I voted, I effectively threw away my vote. I didn’t properly look into it all. I didn’t care. I didn’t feel like it affected me in any meaningful way. I just voted because “that’s the thing to do” and the political party that I voted for was that which my family and those around me had always voted for. There was no original input to which way I voted. Fortunately, since then I have started taking an interest in politics, culture and globalism. As one can imagine, once you become more educated on a subject, your views start to change. Had I known what I know now, I wouldn’t have voted the way that I did. I wonder how many other people were like me? I wonder how many people like me it would take to change the outcome of an election? I thought that I cared about who won, but I wouldn’t have been able to give a reason why. Therefore me, and everyone like me, should not have voted.
Now I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is no, I wouldn’t dream of advocating to take away someone’s right to vote. The vote of an individual is fundamental to our society. But what I instead do advocate for, are those who are apathetic to politics, to not vote. If you do not care, and are not educated, please.
Do not vote.
I don’t want someone who doesn’t care about what we have for dinner, having a say in what we should have to eat that night. Do not do the same for this country. If you want to vote, take the time to take an interest in it. And I don’t mean just do one of those online quizzes and think you have an informed opinion. Because there are some things that you can think is a great idea on the surface, only to not understand, nor be exposed to, its counter arguments. Know the consequences of trying to limit free speech before you try do so. Think through what could happen if you choose to increase minimum wage. Learn about history. Learn the pros and cons of each argument, because there are some to every disagreement. That’s why they're disagreements - because there are valid points on both sides. A law is so much easier to make and implement than it is to remove. And I am afraid that some of us are woefully uneducated, sprinting head first into darkness with a look of confidence that should concern us all.
I would love to say that only those who are educated on politics should be encouraged to vote, however the Dunning-Kruger effect states that those who are least educated on a particular subject think they are the most educated. So in fact if you advocated for uneducated people to not vote, those people who are somewhat educated will won’t vote because they understand how much they don’t know, and those who are least educated will end up voting. Something that we’re trying to avoid.
What I’d ideally like to see is everyone having some basic knowledge about politics and caring about it. We should all care about politics because it does affect us all to some extent. But it’s simply impossible to get everyone in a country to care about one single issue. You just can’t do it. So with that said, if you don’t care, don’t be pressured into casting your vote. We want as less randomness as possible in elections.