Well, tis the season again. Voting season. Midterm elections are upon us and you will hear over and over and over how important it is to express your political desires through voting. Voting is a sacred civic ritual that many have fought and even died to participate in, not just our great grandmothers in this country, but women in other countries, too. In Saudi Arabia, women still cannot vote. At the founding of this country, voting was mostly restricted not just to men, but to landowning white men. Don’t take for granted your right to vote.

Everyone now has the right to vote, thankfully, but should everyone vote? I’m going to blow some minds here and say NO, unequivocally, not everyone should actually vote.

There is a lot at stake in elections. You are giving your mandate to people who make policies and laws that affect us all. The higher the margin a politician wins by, the stronger his or her mandate is. A strong mandate emboldens them to do more and act on their agendas more aggressively.

Sometimes that is actually a really bad thing. How much do you really know about the agenda of the politicians you are voting for? Your vote is your endorsement. So what are you endorsing? Do you know? After the election, it is assumed you knew all about it and are behind everything they want 100%. Listen to the acceptance speeches on the evening of November 4th if you doubt this.  So be careful about the message you are sending when you vote.

Only informed voters should vote. Really.

Don’t just be a voter. Be an intelligent, informed voter. If you are not making informed choices on your ballot, it is better NOT to vote. Yes, I really mean that. Vote smart or stay home. Voting smart is anything but effortless, unfortunately.Eenie-meenie-miney-moe is not OK here. A straight-ticket ballot is even worse. It is dishonoring to our great-grandmothers’ legacies to not use our brains when we check our ballots. That’s what the opponents of the suffragettes said we, as women, would do. Don’t prove them right.

There are 4 steps you MUST take to get this right. If you can’t, for whatever reason, stay home. Don’t vote. There’s no shame in that. Most people do anyway. And truly, that is OK.

Voting is harder than you think. At least, if you do it right. Here are the steps you need to take to be a truly informed, responsible voter:

  1. Know yourself

Figure out your political values. Not your family’s values, not your church’s values, not your friends’ values, OMG not your husband’s values – YOURS. Be as private about this as you wish. You don’t have to advertise. But know where you actually fall on the political spectrum and why. I’d start here with the World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

  1. Know your ballot

Find out what your ballot will look like. Most states’ Board of Elections sites will let you see your ballot. Here is North Carolina’s. Just enter your name to find out what choices will be put in front of you in the voting booth.

  1. Know the job description

You can vote for someone to do the job of US Senator, state senator, US congressman, state representative, district attorney, county commissioner, clerk of court, sheriff, Supreme Court Justice, Associate Justice, Court of Appeals Judge, District Court Judge, Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor. At least that’s what’s on my ballot. What is the job description of these positions? Google it. Based on your values, what qualities would you like to see in someone doing this job?

  1. Know the candidates

This is the hard part, especially on these down ballot races where the quality of information available to you might be heavily filtered and limited. Look at their campaign website, but take it with a grain of salt. Look at other sites talking about them too. See if you can find at least one positive and one negative thing about each candidate. No one’s perfect. No one is the devil either. See if you can come up with some pros and cons to each candidate. Even if someone is running unopposed, you still have a decision: whether or not to give them your mandate. You can always leave a race blank. There is nothing wrong with that.

Four steps. That’s it.

This, of course, gets to be time consuming and frustrating work. Share your thoughts and research on Facebook and other social media. You might save others some headache and maybe even start an important discussion.

You need to research every race you want to vote in if you care about voting intelligently. Just do as much as you can. You may have to prioritize and leave some races blank. An undervote is always better than an ignorant vote.

It is high time we stop the social pressure to vote just for voting’s sake. It is not patriotic if you are inadvertently voting for terrible candidates, just out of ignorance. Our country and our communities are at stake here. Just look what can happen with bad management at the city and county level! Look what a bad judge can do to your kid! Voters in Louisiana have a chance to kick this guy out of the DA’s office, but analysts say they might vote him on through anyway. All so they can wear their “I voted” sticker? Don’t be that voter. Don’t even get me started on the people in charge of Detroit, or how out of touch Congress is. The right thing to do for your community and your country is to vote smart. Speaking of which, this is a great site.

By all means, vote! But make an informed vote, with your mind and with your values. And if you stay home or leave a few races blank, you’ll get no judgment from me!

– See more at: http://www.effortlessgirl.com/2014/10/effortless-electorate-who-should-not.html#sthash.9yRbPbbR.dpuf