Protect What’s Valuable: A Modest Proposal

Adelie Penguin with Egg

Adelie Penguin with Egg

One lesson that seems to escape too many of WC’s buddies is the importance of protecting what is valuable to you. WC will grant you that Adelie Penguins have it a little easier than humans, let alone citizens of a republic. Protect the egg. Protect the cobbles that make the nest. Feed and protect the chick. Pretty straightforward.

The U.S. Constitution expects just a bit more from American citizens. We’re expected to exercise our right to vote, to serve on juries when required and to pay our taxes in full and on time. In return, we don’t have to take on the Antarctic Skuas of the world all on our own.

Too many of WC’s buddies think that it is okay not to vote.

In the 2010 general election, State voting records show that just one-third of registered voters bothered to vote: 33.65%. Sure, the voter rolls are a little out of date, but still. 164,000 votes in an election that involved a bare-knuckles fight for the U.S. Senate and election of a governor.

If you dig a little deeper, it’s even worse. The percentage who vote is based upon registered voters. That’s approximately 495,000 citizens. Probably 15-20% of those persons no longer live in Alaska, have died or are otherwise ineligible to vote. WC can’t find hard data. But at a guess, there are about 420,000 bona fide registered Alaska voters in the state.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census of Alaska, there are about 525,000 citizens in Alaska who are 18 years of age or older.

So there may be as many as another 100,000 citizens of Alaska who can’t be troubled to even register to vote.

Now you can argue that we don’t want participation from folks who don’t care enough to vote, or even to register to vote. But that’s not how a democracy works.

WC has seen proposals that proof of voting should be required to obtain an Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend if you are 18 years old or older. No vote, no PFD. It wouldn’t be hard to do; a computer run against two electronic databases. It shouldn’t be necessary. It smacks of extortion. But maybe it is necessary. Maybe if the PFD is placed in jeopardy, maybe if the PFD is expressly made something citizens have to protect, they’ll protect it and vote.

It’s not a new idea. WC isn’t the first to suggest it. And WC admits to reservations about the whole idea. Readers?


5 thoughts on “Protect What’s Valuable: A Modest Proposal

  1. The suggestion potentially undermines the notion of no compensation for voting, as in buying votes, even though it does not entail exchange for a vote for a specific candidate.
    I think a measure that would increase voting is one in which, as to every office on the ballot, there must always be the option to select “None of the above.” Another measure that might increase participation is rank-ordered selection of those whom a voter finds to be acceptable, provided of course there is always the .
    The only way that I’ve been able to indicate my dissatisfaction with the choices thus far is to not vote for candidates. So I take the time to vote every time without fail, but only to turn in incomplete ballot because the choices are so lousy.
    Paul Eaglin

  2. My reservation is probably one of yours. We should be grateful that at least some of those who are ignorant are aware of their ignorance and abstain from voting, rather than offering them a reward for showing up and making random choices.

  3. While I often turn in an incomplete ballot for reasons M Eaglin mentions above I do not support rank-ordered balloting for a variety of reasons and have some concerns about the PFD/voting reg dealie too.
    I’m not sad about folks who don’t vote because it seems like too much work or they can’t get it together to get to their polling place- I do wish they would keep their yaps shut about issues they can’t be bothered to vote on though.
    I worked on an election board for a number of years . It was a good experience for me on a number of levels though not all of the issues which came up were good ones. In some ways I’m more wary of those who do vote with some entity’s list in hand, be it church or newspaper reccies, than those who don’t vote.
    What does make me sad is the folks ( way too many young adults ) I talk with regularly who truly feel the system is so broken they don’t want to vote, feel it is useless, or some combination of similar notions.
    I have never applied to recieve a PFD because I thought and still think it is the wrong idea for the right reasons. Now THAT conversation gets some of those who don’t want to vote to listen ! Have gotten a couple to register and now gotta keep bugging em to be sure they really turn out to vote 🙂

  4. This is certainly a piece of THAT conversation as is a discussion of what an “ownership” society might be, what and where the $s come from , where we are going with this money and so on.

    I know plenty of folks who do as you do WC and applaud it completely.
    I also know many, many people who squirrel the money away for their kids to go to college and vote carefully every election .
    I know just as many who end up using it all for fuel for heat or to order in bulk food supplies, who also vote every election.
    However, I do not make enough income for any charity donation to push my deductions above the standard deduction so I would end up paying federal income tax on money I gave away to poke a corrupting system in the eye. I’m not ready to do that.
    I rest ok in knowing a cent or two goes to folks like you and same for all the folks in rural Alaska whose desire for community services like water and sewer and transportation interties which work for them go largely ignored by the larger community.
    The yahoos who only raise their political heads when they think the PFD might be in trouble get the same cent or two at most. I can live with that at this point.
    It is the conversation which matters more to me and what might come of it. If 2 more people start paying attention and voting it will be worth every penny of the money I never got.

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