Voting With Your Middle Finger

There’s nothing shameful about voting. Just do it in private, and wash your hands afterward.

Normally, it isn’t polite to announce how you voted, and some people will lie about whether they vote, how often they vote, or what they think about while voting. Especially that last one.

I follow those rules. For the most part, I’ve felt comfortable admitting that I vote, but not terribly comfortable going into explicit detail. However, given recent events, I feel it’s time I overcome my shame and confess yet another of my sins: I’m an anarchist voter.

Like most anarchist voters, I have a strong predilection for protesting via voter belligerence. I use my vote not so much as an opportunity to participate in the democratic process but as a way to tell our collective power structure where it can go and what it can do with itself once it gets there.

It’s meaningless, and part of what allows me to indulge in this anti-social behavior is the certain knowledge that my protest vote won’t actually do anything. Everyone else will tend to vote sensibly, and the world will keep on keeping on as it serenely orbits the sun.

The problem comes once too many of the rest of you idjits decide to join me. We can’t all be anarchist voters. Some of us have to adult1 and cast our votes responsibly. Britain and the vote to leave the European Union2 show what happens when the anarchist voter bloc reaches critical mass: You go from protest vote to half the city being on fire. Sort of like how police brutality trials used to play out in Los Angeles.

We can’t all be anarchist voters. Some of us have to adult and cast our votes responsibly.

There is a second segment of anarchist voters that takes a less active approach to civil protest: the nonvoters. Some of these are simply uninterested in politics or participation, some are terrified of being called up for jury duty, and many are convinced that their vote would have no bearing on the electoral outcome and, therefore, there’s no good reason to take the time and trouble to cast it.

All valid points, especially the jury duty thing. I think we’d live in a more entertaining democracy if jury duty worked the opposite way: If only nonvoters got called up, we’d see both a surge in voting and (I suspect) a surge in really entertaining jury verdicts.

As many post-apocalyptic interviews have indicated, a goodly portion of the British protest voters were voting that way because they were certain that their vote wouldn’t matter. They didn’t want Britain to leave the EU so much as they wanted to remind politicians that we regular schmucks aren’t happy with our place in the pecking order. Problem is, anarchist voters (by our nature) often miss important details like polling figures.

So, here’s a quick primer for my fellow miscreants: Before going in to lob your vote like some electoral Molotov cocktail, just take a quick couple of minutes to Google your election and ensure that it’s not contested. If you see polling numbers within, say, three points of each other, it’s contested. And if it’s contested, you have to do the mature thing and vote with your brain, not your middle finger. Save your middle finger for special tax easements or changes to pension plans.

Nothing says electoral protest like being part of the eight percent who vote against a revised organizational structure for the state retirement board. That’s a perfectly safe protest vote. Leaving the EU, or electing a nutjob? Entertaining, yes. Safe, no.

Protest votes are fine. Burning the city to the ground is not.

1: Don’t like the millennial habit of using “adult” as a verb? Tough. Youngest generation has dibs on culture. Them’s the rules, son.

2: I refuse to use that stupid term for the British egress from the EU.RedShtick-Top-ColumnStop

About Jared Kendall

A freelance data journalist and father of two, Jared Kendall has been using comedy as a coping mechanism his entire life. Born a Yankee, Jared's twenty-year stint in Baton Rouge still leaves him with one question: "Why'd I move here, again?"

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