Don’t waste your vote – vote your conscience

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 3, 2000

I have to admire those who take seriously their civic duty and privilege to vote.

Friday, November 03, 2000

I have to admire those who take seriously their civic duty and privilege to vote.

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While several of my friends whose roots are firmly planted in Minnesota say they don’t care to vote Tuesday, another friend who is studying in Dublin took the initiative to complete an absentee ballot for Tuesday’s elections.

She was excited to vote for a president for the first time, even if she was less than enthusiastic about her choices.

Still, she took the time to call some friends back in the states to get their opinions. She also stayed tuned to the U.K. news for any word on American politics.

Several of the races seem to be an exercise in choosing the lesser of evils, but other races are being fought by equally qualified and sincere candidates. In both situations, I’ll have some tough decisions to make on Tuesday.

I’m not going to advocate for any one particular individual over others, but I will urge you to vote your conscience.

"If you vote for something you don’t believe in, you waste your vote," David Swan, Constitution Party candidate for U.S. Senate told the Austin Daily Herald editorial board. "If you vote for something you believe in – win or lose – you have invested your vote."

Again, that’s not a plug for that candidate, but his words ring true.

There’s an attitude that voters ought not cast their ballots for minor party candidates. After all, those candidates haven’t a prayer of winning. But it’s important to stand for what you believe in – whatever the circumstance.

Voting your conscience is not throwing away your vote. If anything, it sends a message: "I believe in this person, in this party. I want to be able to chose from more than two candidates."

The decreasing rates of voter turn-out tells me one thing – candidates are not speaking for the public. The two major parties have become so dichotomized that they seem to only represent two sides of the extreme on some issues. Bringing more minor parties into the arena will add more voices. And maybe one of those voices is moderate enough to represent your own thoughts and opinions.

Vote for the best candidate, not the party. Be brave enough to vote for a minor party candidate if that individual is the best choice. If the Democrats or the Republicans do most closely fit your views, vote for those candidates.

Whoever you decide to vote for, don’t make it a wasted vote. Vote your conscience and take advantage of the wonderful privilege granted us by our founding fathers.

Shawnda Schelinder in the Austin Daily Herald’s associate editor. She can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail shawnda.schelinder@austindailyherald