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If you don't have a good reason for the way you are voting:

Stop, drop the ballot and go home

Eric Hydrick / Online Editor

Elon University just finished "Citizen Week," what appeared to be a weeklong voter registration drive with no focus on the responsibilities that come along with the right to vote.

So, here's a little belated education.

The idea behind electing our representatives in government is so that an informed citizenry can make sure the government is doing its job right.

The key word in that last sentence was informed. That would mean that the voter knows what's going on and what the positions of the politicians in question are (as well as when they changed their position, along with a decent hypothesis as to why).

An informed voter also knows what each politician has put in front of Congress in support of or in opposition to legislation.

An informed voter also takes all of the euphemisms that politicians spout off to hide what they're actually doing and translate them into plain English, and then holds politicians to  that.

When a person votes, he or she is obligated to know the actual stances of the politicians involved in the race and to vote for the politician whose stance he or she agrees with the most.

Voting for candidates solely based on  their political party is idiotic and dangerous.

Voting for someone to vote against an unfavored politician is even worse.

Likewise, if you don't know the stance of any candidate in a race, you should not vote in that race.

A vote made out of ignorance or simple name recognition from campaign promotions can only lead to disaster.

It is this kind of irresponsible and reckless behavior that turned the American government from something accountable to the American people to one of spin, sound bytes, empty "get-tough" promises and utter crap.

Politicians' obsession with "turning out their base" every election makes it clear they know people don't know why they're voting the way they are.

It's no longer about convincing voters that they have the best policies to put out, or that they are the most qualified to run the country.

It's about getting the sheep in the pasture counted, and it's time it stopped.

If you do not know the major candidates in a race and their positions on the issues, then do not vote.

If you have no intention of ever learning this information, then do not bother to register to vote.

Your vote is not helping anyone, least of all the citizenry of America.

This election day, go to work and earn a little extra money, or stay home and catch crappy daytime television.

I don't care what you do as long as I don't see you at a polling place.

If you do want to vote after having just signed up, then when the election season cranks up, pay attention to the candidates and what they say, as well as major legislation in Congress and what they have to say about it.

Take their statements and try to put them into simple English that you could use in everyday conversation.

Then, actually think about it.

I don't mean think about whether you think it sounds good or not, I mean follow the idea through from surface comments to what would happen after implementation.

Ask yourself: do we need this? Is this really something our government should spend its time and money on? (Which they're taking in the form of taxes anyway.) If this is really a problem, is there a better solution?

Do we really need the government to solve this problem?

Base your vote on the answers to those questions, not on the sound bytes of the day.

Politicians are taking advantage of the American voting public's ignorance and willingness to do as it's told. It's time we bothered to learn what the government is up to and demand they account for it, or go home.

If you're not willing to make the commitment needed to do that, then do us all a favor and go home, too.

Contact Eric Hydrick at pendulum@elon.edu or 278-7247.